F1 Uses British Tax Loophole To Pay Only $1.5M In Corporate Tax On Revenue Of $1.5B
The company that runs F1 "has used a complex technique to legally avoid paying tens of millions of pounds in corporation tax despite racking up annual profits" of £305M last year, according to Christian Sylt of the London INDEPENDENT. F1 made a net contribution of £945,663 ($1.5M) in corporation tax in '11 on revenues of £980M ($1.5B) -- even though the majority of its commercial operations are based in the U.K.
The company "has been able to substantially reduce its tax liability by taking out loans from other companies in the same group," as part of a complex arrangement with U.K. tax authority HMRC.
Details "of money-spinning motorsport’s tax arrangements have been disclosed in a prospectus for the planned flotation of F1 on the Singapore stock exchange." Total corporation tax contribution from businesses linked to F1 -- including by F1 itself, the eight teams and the two engine manufacturers headquartered in the U.K., and the Silverstone circuit which hosts the British Grand Prix -- was just £1.9M in '11 despite total revenues of £2.1B (INDEPENDENT, 7/24).
U.K. RELIEF: In London, Simon Cass reported the standard rate of cooperation tax in the U.K. is 24% of a company’s profit. But F1 "has slashed its tax bill" by taking out £2.5B ($3.8B) worth of loans from offshore companies within the group. The interest on the loans, which amounted to £387.7M in '11, "is tax deductible and thus F1 has managed to engineer a mammoth saving in the U.K." The flotation prospectus states that F1 has "an efficient tax position," adding, "The group’s tax charge is materially dependent on the amount of U.K. tax relief available to it for interest expense on certain intra-group loans. We expect our aggregate cash tax payments to remain broadly consistent with prior years" (DAILY MAIL, 7/24).
POLITICAL WAR: Also in London, Kevin Eason reported F1 "could now join a roll of shame that includes Starbucks and Google, who have been targets for the anger of politicians." British PM David Cameron "is waging a campaign against corporate tax avoiders while the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is also pushing countries to update their tax laws to pull companies into line." Although these fresh revelations "will damage F1’s standing at a time when anger is growing at multinationals that deliberately avoid paying tax, it could perversely attract investors looking for smart ways to spend their money on highly profitable businesses with very low tax liabilities." It remains to be seen whether British motorsport "will also suffer embarrassment from the revelations." The government "has latched onto F1 and motor sport as a world leader in technology with a raft of proposals to develop the industry and push export growth." It is estimated that 3,500 businesses employing about 40,000 people generate motorsport sales worth £7B ($10.8B) (LONDON TIMES, 7/24).