THE multimillion-pound waste firm claiming it will save Croydon taxpayers money by building an incinerator on the borough's border has avoided thousands of pounds' worth of tax.
Viridor – the company planning the plant – joins a host of conglomerates including Starbucks, Amazon and Google, which have benefited from international arrangements at taxpayers' expense.
The firm, which has avoided up to £100,000 – equivalent to more than £500 per Croydon household – this week confirmed it avoided paying Stamp Duty via a subsidiary company it owns in the British Virgin Islands – an offshore tax haven.
It previously refused to publish its tax history after we last year revealed one of its large facilities in Sheffield is owned by the offshore-registered subsidiary.
But the Advertiser has since established that Viridor benefited from buying the Sheffield site for £20.6 million from a company already based in the tax haven.
A company spokesman said: "Viridor confirms that some shares in this particular acquisition were purchased in a foreign company, meaning, in accordance with UK tax law, that they did not attract Stamp Duty."
According to the firm's latest accounts, Viridor Parkwood Holdings Limited, a subsidiary controlled by Viridor Limited and which can receive bulk funds, is still based in the British Virgin Islands.
When asked why the arrangement remains in place, the company provided no further comment.
By taking over the Parkwood company in 2002, while it was already based in the tax haven, Viridor avoided paying 0.5 per cent Stamp Duty on the amount of the shares bought to purchase it – an amount that would have been due were it based in the UK.
The company refused to say how much in total this saved them, but buying the offshore company for £20.6 million means they could have saved up to £103,000.
Phil Thomas, Croydon Council's cabinet member for waste collection and recycling, said: "Everyone should pay their fair share of tax irrespective of whether they are an individual person or a company doing business here.
"They shouldn't look for tax havens."
Croydon Green Party's Shasha Khan, who fiercely opposes the incinerator plan, said: "Viridor spends tens of thousands on public relations companies to help positively spin their waste incinerators.
"This revelation exposes the culture behind the brand."
Viridor claims the incinerator – designed to reduce the amount of waste Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Kingston are sending to landfill – will save taxpayers from the four boroughs £200 million over the next 25 years, despite landfill rates having fallen 17 per cent.
Prevailing winds mean Croydon residents will inhale more of the incinerator's emissions than those in any other borough.
As a result, Croydon residents' objections will hold equal weight during the consultation period.