Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Olympic tax dodge

The cost of the 2012 London Olympics has ballooned spectacularly to over £9 billion, creating an already vast public debt legacy. Corporate sponsorship of the games has provided around £1 billion in Olympic revenues yet the corporate sponsors have managed to get themselves exempted from paying tax on their Olympic profits, meaning that they will be able to claw back most of their Olympic sponsorship outlay at the expense of the British public via lost tax revenues.

The Olympic tax dodge means that the British taxpayer is effectively subsidising the cost of foreign companies like McDonalds and Coca Cola blathering the Olympic games in totally inappropriate advertising for their unhealthy food and drinks. I know I am not alone in finding this legalised tax evasion abhorrent since over 100,000 people have signed the "Stop the Olympic Tax Dodge" petition on 38 Degrees despite a mainstream media blackout on the subject.

Once again the the job of protesting against this kind of corporate favouritism has fallen to small independent organisations, independent bloggers like myself and social media activists, whilst the corporate mainstream media prefer to remain silent. One of the most worrying aspects of this mainstream media blackout is that it has allowed the obnoxious BNP fascists to cash in on the outrage and rise to the first page of UK results for search queries such as "Olympic tax dodge" and "Olympic tax" where they have coated their outrage at this situation in a predictable layer of racist language.

Speaking of fascists it should be noted that one of the big London 2012 Olympic sponsors Coca Cola were big players in Nazi Germany, with hundreds of bottling plants and they were proud sponsors of the 1936 Nazi Olympics in Berlin. In fact their product Fanta was initially developed to provide sugary drinks to Nazi Germany once supplies of Coke syrup ran out. Perhaps the BNP should be happy that a fascist supporting company like Coca Cola are being allowed to cash in on the Olympic games at the taxpayers' expense?

Sticking with the Nazi theme, the Olympic's corporate sponsors have insisted that the British public sector provide them with hundreds of local council staff that they can turn into their own purple shirted "brand enforcement" militia to ensure that nobody but the official corporate sponsors benefit from the Olympic games by using words such as "Gold", "Silver". "Bronze", "Summer", "Sponsor", or "London" in their advertising and to enforce strict monopolies by banning anyone but McDonalds from selling chips within the Olympic zone.

The UK population has already provided £9 billion towards the cost of the games, yet the corporate sponsors have shown that they are determined to milk even more cash out of the British taxpayer to subsidise the blathering of their logos all over the games and have even insisted that the taxpayer provide them a private militia of "purple shirts" to rigorously enforce this ubiquitous corporate branding that they have conned the taxpayer into subsidising.

These scams would have been great for the corporate sponsors had they not been picked up upon, but now that the public are becoming aware, actually accepting these tax breaks looks extremely likely do more long-term harm to their corporate reputations in the UK than the few hundred million pounds they were planning to scam out of the taxpayer. If you want to help these corporations to see sense and rescind these Olympic tax breaks please take a minute to sign the 38 Degrees Olympic tax dodge petition.

Update: McDonalds were the first to try to reverse the tide of negative publicity by stating that they now intend to pay tax on their Olympic profits. Over the following week all the other sponsors agreed to waive their tax-break. The stop the Olympic tax-dodge campaign was a fine demonstration that online activism can work.

 
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