9am Lowdown: Ikea's taxes in the spotlight

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Good morning, today’s headlines feature Ikea, Blue Inc, George Osborne’s family business and a TV survival adventure opportunity.

Ikea's taxes in the spotlight

The European Commission has pledged to study a report claiming that Ikea may have underpaid taxes by €1bn between 2009 and 2014 due to “aggressive tax strategies”.

The research commissioned by the Green/EFA group in the European parliament claims to show that Ikea structured itself to dodge €1bn in taxes over the last six years using onshore European tax havens.

In a statement the Greens said it used: “a series of tax loopholes in different European countries, namely the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg to avoid paying taxes”.

Ikea has since defended its management of its tax affairs.

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Osborne family business tax furore

George Osborne has received a £1,230 dividend pay-out worth from his family’s wallpaper business, Osborne & Little Group, despite the company not paying any corporation tax for the last seven years.

According to The Sunday Times the parent company of the business paid out dividends worth £335,000 to shareholders, including the Chancellor, on 30 May 2014.

Osborne's parents, Sir Peter and Lady Felicity Osborne, reportedly received dividend pay-outs of more than £270,000.

The company has reportedly not paid UK corporation tax since 2008, partly due to the business rolling over losses from previous years and deferring tax payments.

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HMRC faces big loss after Blue Inc insolvency clause

HMRC and small businesses face losing out on millions of pounds after Blue Inc, which owns the Officers Club brand, used an insolvency procedure to close loss-making stores.

According to The Guardian the Revenue could lose £3m and suppliers £31.6m after the clothing retailer used a pre-pack administration to get rid of 76 stores and cut 500 jobs.

Blue Inc placed the subsidiary that owned and operated the sores’ leases into administration and then immediately bought back the healthiest parts of the business.

Papers from the administrator Leonard Curtis show that Blue Inc paid just £1.2m to buy back 160 stores from the subsidiary, A Levy & Son.

The store closures represent a third of Blue Inc’s estate and the retailer can now rebuild without its debts.

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Calling all accountants for TV survival adventure

Film company Windfall Films is looking for accountants to take part on a maritime survival series for an UK broadcaster.

The company is searching for people with a sense of adventure to re-enact a famous 18th century ocean voyage in an historically accurate replica boat, surviving on basic rations. In particular it is looking for an accountant to be the ship's purser or equivalent.

Applicants will need to use their ingenuity and teamwork skills to battle the elements, supplement their rations and complete the same challenges as their historical counterparts, according to Economia.

The adventure series will require six weeks of their time in July and August this year. Interested accountants can email an application form to [email protected] by 18 March.

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Anything of any actual interest?

So has the Sunday Times's extensive investigation really revealed the startling truth that George Osborne received (and declared in the correct parliamentary procedure) the princely sum of £1k of dividends from his family company in which he appears to be a minority shareholder, the company having accumulated historic losses which it is now utilising, whilst also claiming capital allowances which has resulted in the disclosure of a deferred tax liability?

If that was the extent of my investigations I'd be embarrassed to even mention it and my boss would have been having serious words with me about my future career.

Or is there actually any substance or scandal to report?

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So that's the reason he hiked the dividend tax rates...

He just wanted his £1,230 dividend sooner rather than later, so he engineered the rise in dividend tax to force payment of the companies dividends to before April 2016. 

The sly fox!

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