Global financial firm HSBC has been caught up in protests targeted at British firms avoiding their tax obligations. 13 HSBC branches were the target of protests by tax evasion campaigners UK Uncut, who believe that the bank’s minimal tax obligations contribute to public financial issues.
The group, which campaigns for alternatives to austerity measures, has targeted a range of UK businesses over the past years. Past protect targets include Vodafone, which was affected by protesters demanding that the corporation pay more taxes and avoid using off-shore accounts to avoid UK corporation tax obligations.
HSBC, despite being headquartered in London, has been targeted by the group as it avoided paying a ‘fair share of tax.’ The group also claims that HSBC has abused the system by setting up ‘hundreds of tax havens’ that make it difficult for UK services to operate due to reduced tax revenue.
Protestors were situated outside the Regent Street branch of HSBC, transforming it into a food bank designed to highlight the loss of income that many people on public assistance benefits have experienced. Murray Worthy, a UK Uncut spokesman, noted that HSBC relied on tax havens ‘more than any other bank.
HSBC has not commented on the allegations made by the protestors specifically, but has repeatedly voiced its tax philosophy. The bank ‘takes tax transparency seriously’ and paid over $9.3 billion in taxes over the last twelve months. HSBC’s UK taxes are more than £1.1 billion per year, with average payments increasing on average.
Protestors moved from the Regent Street branch to an Oxford Street HSBC branch in the afternoon, claiming that it was not their intent to inconvenience customers, but to ‘target the management of HSBC.’ Other protests took place in Glasgow, where an HSBC branch was closed after protestors covered it with tax evasion posters.