McDonald’s new menu: less transparency, more tax havens
June 2nd, 2018 by Massimo

EFFAT-IUF, EPSU and SEIU have released a report on McDonald’s new tax practices, focusing on the company’s use of tax avoidance mechanisms in Europe and low-tax jurisdictions and havens around the world. The report shows how the company rejigged its tax structure in the midst of an EU tax probe the day after the UK voted for Brexit.

In February 2015, a coalition of European and American trade unions unveiled a report on McDonald’s deliberate avoidance of over EUR 1 billion in corporate taxes in Europe between 2009 and 2013. Three years later, the update “Unhappier meal” shows how McDonald’s has significantly modified its corporate structure since the European Commission began investigating its tax dealings with Luxembourg, with the result that it is now even less transparent and more reliant on well-known tax-havens. The Unhappy Meal report outlined in detail the tax avoidance strategy adopted by McDonald’s and its fiscal impact across Europe and in major markets like France, Italy, Spain and the UK.

Since the European Commission launched its state aid probe, McDonald’s has moved from Luxembourg to Delaware in the USA using a myriad of intermediate companies in Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK while making use of companies in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Guernsey. The new corporate structure is so opaque that the new tax base cannot be determined. The system does not allow for public scrutiny of the companies’ accounts, including taxes owed and paid.

SEIU Executive Vice President Rocio Sáenz said: “It’s clear that McDonald’s will do whatever it takes to hide its abusive tax practices from public scrutiny. McDonald’s tax avoidance is just one example of how the company inflates its profits at the expense of everyone else, including workers, consumers and taxpayers. We urge the European Commission to vigilantly investigate McDonald’s continued tax avoidance and hold the company accountable for the damage done by its misconduct.”

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