European and American trade unions, representing 15 million workers in the public and private sectors – including the fast-food industry – in 40 countries just published a new report on McDonald’s tax practices, focusing on the company’s use of tax avoidance mechanisms in Europe and low-tax and secrecy jurisdictions around the world. Titled ‘Unhappier Meal’, co-authored by EPSU, EFFAT, and SEIU, it comes three years after The Unhappy Meal report which, in February 2015, had unveiled a report about McDonald’s deliberate avoidance of over €1 billion in corporate taxes in Europe (from 2009 to 2013).
This update shows that McDonald’s has significantly changed its corporate structure after the European Commission started investigating its tax dealings with Luxembourg and is less transparent on tax and more reliant on well-known tax-havens.
“Since the European Commission launched its state aid probe, the report explains, McDonald’s has moved from Luxembourg to Delaware in the USA using a myriad of intermediate companies in Singapore, Hong Kong and the UK while making use of companies in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Guernsey”.
“The new corporate structure is so untransparent that the new tax base is currently unknown. It does not allow for public scrutiny of the companies’ accounts, including taxes owed and paid”.
“With systemwide sales in 2017 of US$90 billion, McDonald’s is the world’s largest fast food company. Europe is McDonald’s largest market outside the U.S. Given the size and symbolic importance of McDonald’s, it is crucial that European lawmakers and enforcement authorities remain attentive to McDonald’s activities”.