London 2012 Olympics

Photograph by Megan Eaves

Jimmy Carr and Take That may have been the ones in the headlines recently as the extent of their tax avoidance, but unbeknown to the public East London has become a tax haven for the summer months of this year as the London 2012 Olympic partners such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Visa have a temporary exemption from corporation tax as non-resident companies.

These schemes, highlighted in a report by Ethical Consumer, where they note that these deals have become standard for holding such high profile international events. HMRC describes these tax-exempt “commercial delivery partners” as:

An organisation (known as a Commercial Delivery Partner) that is supplying services to LOCOG in return for the right to market and advertise themselves or their products for commercial purposes by reference to their association with the Games. It includes a company connected with the Commercial Delivery Partner.

The UK government have created a system in which these partners are given a near monopoly in their fields such as McDonald’s for food and Visa for payment processing around the Games, and then permitted to use offshore tax havens to avoid paying any tax on those profits as well as all the other benefits being a partner offer such as the availability of tickets. Whilst LOCOG may be being funded and run by the state, having registered as a private company they are not required to share the extent of these deals with the public through Freedom of Information requests either, so we may never see their full extent.

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