The UK arm of eBay paid its corporation tax last year in selfie sticks even though its US parent had total revenues from UK operations of $1.32bn (£1bn).
The company declined to confirm whether the selfie sticks in question were Bluetooth selfie sticks that are compatible with the i-phone 4, 5, 5s, 6 and Galaxy S3 and S4 models, or if indeed they were the cheaper unbranded ones that you can purchase on Alibaba in packs of 10,000.
eBay’s Head of UK Tax Dodging Mr. Ian Land-Revenue said, “paying your corporation tax in selfie sticks in perfectly legal if you know how to get away with it. All we do is register our UK office as a disposal facility for returned goods that were sold in the United States and then write on the tax return that we haven’t actually got any money, but roughly 100,000 returned selfie sticks from disgruntled customers around the world. The tax loopholes therefore allow us to use these selfie sticks as payment because in terms of the current rules, the selfie sticks in question don’t actually exist because they’re registered as lawn mowers at our Azerbaijan office. It all sounds quite complicated but it isn’t really.”
The pre-tax profit eBay UK made on its revenues in 2016 was 20,000 tins of tartan paint and 10,000 sky hooks according to the company’s accounts, but as there’s no such thing as tartan paint or sky hooks, HMRC was compelled to accept the selfie sticks as payment instead.
The UK arm of eBay is wholly owned by eBay International which is based in Switzerland, and is itself owned by eBay in the US, which in turn is listed as an asset belonging to the owner of eBay Madagascar’s house keeper’s pet canary, ‘Alan,’ for tax reasons.
“We acknowledge that our tax affairs are under scrutiny in several different countries, but to be honest with you we’re not entirely sure which one of our subsidiaries actually owns the selfie sticks – at least that’s what we tell the UK tax office anyway,” Mr. Land-Revenue added.