How do guests at The Ritz feel about it not paying corporation tax?

 

The Ritz, perhaps Britain’s most instantly recognisable hotel, is facing the prospect of being targeted by protest groups as early as next month over revelations that it has not paid any corporation tax in the last 17 years.

But, while the world-famous hotel has become the latest major company to be caught up in the corporate tax controversy, there was little sign of the sort of public anger aimed at firms like Starbucks among those staying there today.

Instead, some customers told The Independent that - while they thought the company had a moral responsibility to pay into the public purse - the onus must be on the government to crack down on any which legally avoided paying tax.

“If what they are doing is not illegal, then they are not doing anything wrong,” said one visitor to the Ritz, who did not want to be named. As the man waited for a taxi outside the hotel’s side entrance, he said: “It is the government’s fault if firms are able to employ strategies to minimise their taxes, the politicians need to sort out the loopholes.”

Another guest, a Yorkshireman who lives in Kazakhstan where he works for a major oil firm, said it was the moral responsibility of companies to “give something back” but that it was difficult to see a firm paying tax it is not forced to.

The man, who did not want to be named, spoke as he stood outside the hotel. Referring to the attitudes of some of its customers towards the issue – which contrasts the outrage directed at Starbucks by some of its customers - he added that there were some “enormously rich people in there who simply live in a different world”.

He said that he himself was once registered as non-domiciled in the UK but changed his status to pay UK tax because he wanted to pay into the system. He said: “I believe in a fair and just society but it is the laws which need to be changed, not the companies.

“If someone has a clever accountant, is that the real problem when there are also a lot of people who evade tax illegally? I do think that companies have a moral responsibility and obligation to pay something to help society. If I was the chief executive of a large business and I found that it was complying with tax laws [while avoiding UK tax], I would consider giving some money to charity in order to fulfil that obligation.”

When it was revealed to have employed a tax avoidance scheme, a public backlash prompted Starbucks to agree to pay Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs a lump sum over the next two years and to consider changing its structure to pay UK corporation tax.

UK Uncut, the anti-tax avoidance group which carried out a high profile demonstration down the street from the Ritz at Fortnum and Mason last year, is believed to have added the world-famous hotel to the list of firms to be considered for future action.

UK Uncut member Sarah Greene said: “It is an outrage that the government continues to let the super wealthy and big businesses dodge millions in tax while vital services like refuges and rape crisis centres, benefits and the NHS face the axe.

She added that cracking down on tax avoidance schemes could “bring in billions”, which could “fund vital services…but are instead using the deficit to justify the cuts which are devastating people’s lives”.

Ms Greene said: “The government must close the tax loopholes companies use to avoid paying billions in tax to the UK. We don’t need cosmetic changes, tweaks around the edges or promises of months of talking - Osborne needs to take urgent action now to tackle widespread tax avoidance by some of the biggest companies in the UK instead of making single mothers, disabled people and people on low wages pay for the economic crisis we did not cause.”

It is understood, however, that the group will not be deciding its next target before the new year.

The comments came after a BBC report unveiled the Ritz’s tax arrangements. Aidan Barclay, who runs the UK operation on behalf of its joint owners the Barclay brothers, said that the Ritz had not paid any dividends, and profits from the hotel had been reinvested.

Mr Barclay, son of Sir David Barclay said: “The Barclay family members and their companies abide by the law and pay the taxes required by UK law and the laws of other relevant countries.”

His father said: “We have always acted in a responsible way with regard to taxation and have never been involved in any tax avoidance scheme. We are not responsible for corporate taxes in the UK and are unaware what tax is paid on the Ritz.”

News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CCNP, Cisco, London)

£65000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(CCIE, CC...

Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, Cisco, CISSP)

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Analyst - (CCIE, C...

Senior Network Engineer-(Design, Implementation, CCIE)

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-(Design, ...

JavaScript Developer (C++ / C# / HTML, Java Angular.js) London

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A world leading business intellig...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition