PwC: Largest UK companies pay £1 in every £10 collected by HMRC

The largest 100 companies in the UK paid just £84 billion in tax last year, the equivalent to just over £1 in every £10 received by HMRC, according to an annual survey by PwC.

At 47.9% of profits before business taxes, it was the highest total tax rate since 2010, up from the 41% reported the previous year. However, the report found that the contribution as a share of all taxes paid dropped from 11.7% to 11.3%.

The £84bn was £600 million less than the figure in 2018 owing to weaker profitability, as well as falling fuel and tobacco duties.Just £26.9bn was a direct cost to the companies involved. The other £57.2bn was collected by the businesses and was passed on to the exchequer on behalf of others, such as the income tax and national insurance contributions owed by staff, The Times reports.

In the aftermath of business failures, financial losses and tax cuts triggered by the coronavirus crisis, PwC has warned that “a significant fall in the tax contribution is expected next year as declining profitability leads to lower corporation tax payments”.

The 100 group employs just under two million people, a total of 5.8% of the UK workforce and contributes 9%, or £26 billion, of total British employment taxes.

Andy Agg, chairman of the 100 Group’s tax committee, said: “This study shows that despite challenging economic conditions, the total tax contribution from large companies remains significant.”

PwC’s study revealed that the biggest single tax borne directly by the companies was employers’ national insurance, which accounted for 25.7% of all taxes borne, followed by corporation tax at 25.5%.

The third largest tax burden was business rates, at 19% of all tax borne by the companies. The biggest indirect cost was payroll tax, in income tax and national insurance, at 31.4% of the total. The second largest was fuel duty at 30.3%.

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