The UK staff of social media network Facebook took home an average of £210,000 in pay and bonuses last year, leading it to file a £28.5m loss and paying less than a £5,000 in tax. It doled out shares worth £35.4m to its 362 London staff that led to an accounting loss of £28.5m during the period, according to the company's official figures, as questions still linger over tax avoidance by online companies.
Including wages and other cash payments and bonuses, Facebook's UK-based staff took home £76.2m last year, which means its staff's average annual wage is £210,497. The UK office is headed by Steve Hatch, a former media agency chief executive at MEC, who took up the post of Facebook's regional director for the UK & Ireland at the tail end of 2013. Prior to that, Baroness Joanna Shields, minister for internet safety and security, was managing director of Facebook's Europe, Middle East and Africa offices from 2009-2012.
Facebook paid the taxman just £4,327 – only slightly more than a worker on the average UK salary of £26,500 is charged in tax (£3,180), but less if national insurance (£2,213) is taken into account. Facebook is understood to generate as much as 10% of its global revenue in the UK through its trading with UK-based media agencies and, although less so, direct with advertisers. However, although the company has an office in London's Euston, it is officially headquartered in Ireland and has tax arrangements in the Cayman Islands.
Rules introduced by the OECD members of developed nations last week are now set to stop large corporations, such as Google, Apple, Vodafone and Amazon, shifting official headquarters and trading bases to tax havens and low-tax territories, such as Luxembourg and Switzerland. The rules will be enforced on companies to reveal how much revenue it generates in each territory and will tax the corporation accordingly.
A Facebook spokesperson said: "We are compliant with UK tax law and in fact all countries where we have employees and offices. We continue to grow our business activities in the UK."