Newspaper review: Spotlight on tax-evading companies


A number of major corporations are under scrutiny in many of Thursday's papers. The Guardian reports that Amazon is facing new questions over its tax bill after an investigation by the paper found the online retailer was pushing the rule-book to its limits to minimise the amount it pays.

The paper claims that information it has collected suggests HM Revenue and Customs could take a much tougher line on taxing Amazon's multi-billion-pound British operations. And it says MPs are ready to haul the company back to Parliament to discuss its tax status.

The Independent points out that Amazon gets more back in government grants than it pays in corporation tax, saying "now that's what we call a tax return". An Amazon spokesman tells the Times that it has paid all applicable taxes wherever the company operates.

Oil price fixing

Big oil companies, such as Shell and BP, also find themselves under fire. The Sun and the Daily Telegraph highlight a call by David Cameron for executives to face prosecution if they're found to have fixed the price of petrol.

The Daily Star believes that if the allegations are proven, it will be a scandal to dwarf the Libor scam.

The Sun says the prime minister must be ready to turn his tough talk into action, while the Daily Mirror shows a map of Britain in the form of a pool of blood from a petrol pump. "They're bleeding us dry", the paper complains and asks: "Why is it always ordinary people that foot the bill?"

The Telegraph believes that in too many areas of the economy, the free market is failing to work, and that a system which ought to be delivering the lowest prices for consumers is instead rewarding cosy cartels and monopolists.

The Daily Express focuses on what it calls the "soaring energy bills scandal". It says millions of households - who are facing crippling rises in their monthly energy charges - will be hit by further big price hikes by the end of the year. As one consumer expert tells the paper: "It's a cruel reality that customers pay more as firms make more".

Cloned embryos

A picture on the front of the Independent shows a group of embryos created by a cloning technique that led to the birth of Dolly the Sheep. A caption asks: "Is this the shape of things to come?"

The Daily Mail, which leads on the story, says the breakthrough could lead to treatments or even cures for a range of diseases, including Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis. But the paper warns that it also raises the spectre of babies being cloned in laboratories and could allow couples who lose a child to pay for the creation of, in its words, a "duplicate".

Finally, the Telegraph has some advice for any of its readers who may be trying to recover from a broken relationship: "Pick a sad song to cheer yourself up". The paper highlights a study which found that listening to sad music is the best way to get over a break-up as it has the same soothing effect as a supportive friend.

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