Streaming giant Netflix accused of taking UK taxpayer ‘for a ride’

Asa Butterfield attending the Sex Education Season Two world premiere held at Genesis Cinema, London.
Asa Butterfield attending the Sex Education Season Two world premiere held at Genesis Cinema, London.

Streaming giant Netflix has been accused of “superhighway robbery” over its tax affairs.

Dame Margaret Hodge is hitting out at the US company, which has enjoyed a huge hit with royal drama The Crown, for taking “the UK taxpayer… for a ride”.

She is set to tell the Commons that the Digital Services Tax should be extended to cover streaming services like Netflix, so that “tax abuse” will stop.

Margaret Hodge
Margaret Hodge has been a thorn in the side of big businesses who avoid taxes in the UK (PA)

Her comments come as the streaming giant confirmed a fifth and final series of The Crown, starring Imelda Staunton.

The California-based company has also enjoyed recent hits with Sex Education, The Irishman and Marriage Story.

Dame Margaret says Netflix does not pay tax in the UK and has pocketed nearly £1 million in tax reliefs in the last two years.

She cites figures from a report from Tax Watch UK, which looked at the most recently-filed accounts for Netflix’s 19 UK subsidiaries, according to Companies House.

The MP will say: “This is superhighway robbery. The UK taxpayer is being taken for a ride.

“We are actually handing over cash to Netflix while they stash their profits offshore…

“It is time to stop the ‘something for nothing’ aggressive tax behaviour of these big companies. I say enough is enough. These tax abuses must stop.”

The report claims the business received tax relief in the UK of nearly £1 million over 2017 and 2018, paying no corporation tax on profits made.

A Netflix spokesman said that “international taxation needs reform and support the OECD’s proposal for companies to pay more tax in the countries where their operations help generate value.

“In the meantime, we comply with the rules in every country where we operate.”

He added that the report contained “a number of inaccuracies”, including that Netflix has a Caribbean-based entity, although the report only covers the most recent accounts with Companies House, which are only up to 2018.

Netflix added: “We significantly simplified our tax structure last year. Netflix continues to invest heavily in the UK – spending more than £400 million on local productions in 2019, which helped to create over 25,000 jobs and training placements.”


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