Frozen food & grocery retailer Iceland’s boss Malcolm Walker has accused the Government of “an attack on fun” after refusing to pay a £2.5 million tax bill for an employee trip to Disney World, it is understood.
In 2009, Store Managers across the UK and US were taken on a visit to Florida’s Disney World, Universal Studios and the Kennedy Space Centre, costing £5,000 per person for the 800 staff.
Iceland has now been asked to pay the resulting £2.5 million tax bill though, according to The Times, Walker has refused, claiming that it was a “tax-deductible business expense” as employees learnt from the visit.
Walker told the newspaper: “Disney is the number one in the world for customer service.
“We have invested millions over the past seven years in giving our store managers and head office staff the best conferences money can buy.”
Walker also stated that, over the last eight years, the retailer has paid HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) some £513.6 million.
Asking for the full £2.5 million to be paid, HMRC has deemed the trip a ‘benefit in kind’, for which the employer must pay National Insurance while staff must pay income tax, and warned that it will be investigating trips where “the itinerary will consist largely of social occasions, excursions and leisure activities,” as “no deduction should be permitted for the cost of such trips”.
Walker however, refused to apologise for his position, as having fun is “a key factor” in Iceland’s success.
“You might think that the Government would be keen to learn from this success,” he added.
“Instead they seem determined to do their utmost to snuff out the fun in business by taxing as a benefit in kind any corporate event that might be considered enjoyable,” he added.
“If the Government actually wants to encourage businesses to grow and lift the economy out of recession, there could hardly be a worse way to go about it than by launching a nit-picking attack on fun.”