Photo credit: ITF (Kulsoom Jafri addresses Maersk shareholders at the company’s 2022 AGM in Copenhagen on behalf of the ITF & its union affiliates)

A.P. Moller – Maersk’s employees most likely pay a higher rate of tax than the shipping giant company, International Transport Workers´ Federation says today citing information from a new analysis being released ahead of the Maersk AGM next week.

In accordance with ITF, which gave to the press a document from the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research (CICTAR), researchers from CICTAR identify the extraordinary situation of the average worker in many countries where Maersk operates, paying a higher share of their income in tax than the Danish firm reports paying on its profits.

“Globally, Maersk pre-tax profits totalled USD $49 billion across 2021 and 2022. But in 2021 it paid just 3.7 percent tax on its profits, and only 3 percent last year. The figure includes the tax it reported as paid in the 130 countries it operates. Compare that with an average Danish worker who pays 39.1 percent income tax and social security contributions on their wages: a rate thirteen times higher than the rate paid by Maersk,” as ITF highlights in its announcement.

ITF based on the key findings of the CICTAR research, says today that a worker earning an average income in Denmark pays 13 times the rate Maersk pays, Dutch workers are paying more than 12 times the rate Maersk pays, Argentinian workers are paying more than eight times the rate of tax that Maersk pays. Also Australian workers on average pay 19.8 percent of their income in tax, more than six times Maersk’s tax rate.

Karsten Kristensen, deputy chairman of the Transport Group at Danish union 3F mentions that “Maersk is a Danish icon. And while we are proud of their commercial success, Maersk’s profits must not come at the expense of either workers or taxpayers – whether we are in Denmark or abroad.”

“Maersk’s success needs to be a shared success, both with its workers and with society. It is concerning that these new figures suggest that the company is contributing at a lower rate of tax than workers do,” Kristensen said.

Kristensen said when companies don’t pay a fair share, “It means they are expecting other taxpayers, including workers, to foot the bill for essential public services like roads and ports through income taxes. This is a clear case of corporate double standards. We believe Danes expect more from Maersk.”

Maersk did extremely well through the pandemic and the corresponding supply chain crunch. The company’s global profits jumped considerably since 2020, multiplying more than 26 times in the two-year period, according to ITF which cites information given by CICTAR.

But Danish taxpayers largely missed out on the good times. That is because, in contrast to other kinds of businesses which typically pay corporate tax rates in their home country on most or all of their profits, Maersk has paid a much lower ‘tonnage tax’ rate in home country Denmark instead, says ITF. Since 2001, instead of levying standard corporate tax on shipping companies, Denmark has levied a tonnage tax that is determined by a fixed amount per net tonne (CICTAR).

“Maersk Group’s shareholders will ask how the findings of this report fits with the company’s public commitments to sustainability,” said Kulsoom Jafri, Lead Campaigner at the International Transport Workers’​ Federation (ITF).

Kulsoom Jafri said “there was a double standard when a multinational company like Maersk was banking super profits made during the pandemic, largely due to the hard work of employees, and paying a lower rate of tax than those workers were.”

The Lead Campaigner at the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said ITF would hand deliver its annual statement on Maersk’s ESG performance in person next week.