McDonald’s Turns Down Olympic Tax Break After Pressure From Activists

For the London Summer Olympics, which start ten days from now, several corporations have been given an exemption from collecting the UK’s corporate income tax. Foreign corporations that are acting as the game’s sponsors — including BP, Coca-Cola, and Visa — will benefit from what is essentially a temporary tax haven.

But at least one eligible company says it will forego the tax break, following pressure from activists:

McDonald’s has bowed to an online campaign and declined an Olympic tax break, just days before the start of the Games. […]

McDonald’s made clear that the cost of turning down the break would be minimal, as revenue from the Games would be less than 0.1% of its annual sales in the UK. It said in a statement: “We will not be making any corporate income tax exemption claim with respect to any activity concerning our involvement with the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

The organization 38 Degrees collected more than 150,000 signatures against the tax break. “It’s working! McDonald’s have said they won’t be taking the tax break — but please sign the petition to keep pressure on the other sponsors,” the organization said in a statement.


The Tax Justice Network estimated that the tax giveaway will cost the UK “tens of millions of pounds” in lost revenue. “We’re giving money away that we need to solve our debt crisis and to preserve essential public services,” said the Tax Justice Network’s Richard Murphy.

Meanwhile, London will also be paying for 300 enforcement officers to ensure that none of the corporate sponsor’s copyrights are violated.