Barclays UK corporation tax bill for 2009 was £113m

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Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond
Image caption,
Mr Diamond disclosed the tax data after being questioned by the Treasury Select Committee

Barclays has revealed it paid £113m in corporation tax to the UK in 2009, 2.4% of its £4.6bn global annual profit.

Labour MP Chuka Umunna, of the Treasury Select Committee, who requested the detail, described it as "shocking".

Barclays said the amount of corporation tax it paid for the year included losses for the previous year.

The UK tax authorities' relatively low take also reflects the global nature of the British bank, with the bulk of its profits coming from outside the UK.

The £4.6bn pre-tax profit announced by Barclays for 2009 does not include the £6.3bn windfall gain from its sale of its "iShares" business Barclays Global Investors in April of that year.

Mr Umunna said revelation showed that the bank was not paying its fair share towards a deficit they had helped create, despite having benefited from the government's rescue of the financial system.

Although Barclays was not directly rescued by the UK government - unlike Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland - it has been able to borrow extremely cheaply because of the Bank of England's decision to slash interest rates, and because markets perceived that the government would not allow any big bank to fail.

The bank announced pre-tax profits of £6.1bn for 2010 earlier this week.

UK vs rest of world

According to Barclays' financial results, the bank paid an "effective tax rate" on its gross profits - which comprises corporation tax paid in all parts of the globe - of 25% in 2010 and 23% in 2009.

This compares with the UK corporate tax rate of 28%.

Some 60% of Barclays profits are earned outside the UK and Ireland, meaning they are subject to corporation tax in other countries.

Typically, HMRC will only charge the difference between the UK's tax rate - if higher - and the local tax already incurred.

However, new tax rules proposed by the coalition government would mean that the UK's banks and other multinational companies would not be asked to pay this tax difference in the future.

"Barclays is a large international banking group with operations in 50 countries worldwide, all of which are subject to close governance and clear disclosure," said the bank in response to the MP's claims.

"The corporate tax affairs of an organisation with the global footprint of Barclays are complex and not reducible to simplistic comparisons.

"Any link between Barclays Group profits and the amount of tax paid to the UK government is inappropriate - there is no direct correlation between the two."

Payroll tax

Mr Umunna had questioned Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond about the bank's profits at a Treasury Select Committee last month.

The bank boss had said the bank paid £2bn in taxes to the Revenue - but this included income tax and national insurance contributions paid on employees' salaries.

The total amount paid in corporation tax - which is calculated on the bank's profits - was revealed in response to a follow-up written request from the committee.

According to Lord Sassoon, commercial secretary to the Treasury, the Revenue would expect large banking groups to pay around £20bn in 2010-11.

Of this, 80% would come from from pay-as-you-earn income tax and National Insurance Contributions, and only 20% from corporation tax.

Even so, the level Barclays paid is actually remarkably low, according to Justin Urquhart-Stewart of Seven Investment Management.

The £113m in corporation tax is only 6% of the £2bn total paid to the Revenue.

"But you only have to look at what's happened in the past few years and what levels of perfectly legitimate write-offs banks are able to set off against profits," he added.

'Uncomfortable truth'

Mr Umunna said the relatively low share of tax paid in the UK reflects the government's failure to take the robust action needed to make sure that the banks which caused the crash pay their fair share.

"When he appeared before the Treasury Select Committee, Bob Diamond agreed that the payment of tax is one of banks' key obligations to society," he noted.

"Given that Barclays has benefited from both an implicit taxpayer guarantee and the measures taken to save the banking system in 2008, this raises serious questions as to whether the government is ensuring banks like Barclays are paying a fair contribution to the deficit they helped create."

Tory MP Matt Hancock said that Mr Umunna "has uncovered the uncomfortable truth that under the Labour Government of Ed Balls and Ed Miliband the banks did not pay their fair share".

"As a result of negotiations by this Government, banks will pay less in bonuses, more in tax and lend more than they otherwise would have done this year," he added.

According to an agreement with the big four UK banks - dubbed "Project Merlin" - they will contribute £10bn in tax, up from £8bn last year, he said.

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