ACT News

Canberra IKEA opening hacked with 'FAKEA' price tags

​IKEA may design its price tags first, but up to 200 fake tags littered around Canberra's brand-new store got tongues wagging on Monday.

IKEA opening day

Hear from the people who got there first and why.

Lobby group Fair Go For Canberra sobered Canberrans' giddy glee at flatpacks and meatballs at Monday's Majura Park store opening by drawing attention to the company's multi-national corporate tax avoidance using parody price tags.

The "FAKEA" price tags mimicked the design of the Swedish furniture giant's in-store signage but featured the tag line: "Design, quality and aggressive tax minimisation."

Parody price tags were littered throughout Canberra's brand-new IKEA store on Monday.
Parody price tags were littered throughout Canberra's brand-new IKEA store on Monday. Photo: Francis Keany

"During the period from 2002 – 2013, IKEA's Australian stores made over $1 billion in profit and paid less than $31 million in tax," the tag reads.

"That's a tax rate of 3 per cent. The corporate tax rate in Australia is 30 per cent. Imagine what we could do with $269 million."

The tag directed people to the group's website and asked them to sign a petition calling on the Turnbull government to close corporate tax loopholes and take GST hikes off the table.

"By avoiding real action on corporate tax avoidance and instead focusing on raising the GST, the Turnbull government is protecting the wealthy at the expense of everyday Australians," the group - which is an arm of Unions ACT -  said.

"Aggressive tax minimisation is rife in Australia and costing us billions in potential healthcare, education, infrastructure and crucial social services funding."

The petition has attracted more than 350 signatures.

Photos of the tags attracted thousands of upvotes on image-sharing sites Imgur and Reddit.

"I like this, non-violent activism that is still direct and confronting. Hopefully this causes some headaches for IKEA," one Reddit user commented.

"Leaving anonymous notes where nobody capable/willing to do anything about it will ever see is like... the opposite of direct and confronting," another fired back.

IKEA Canberra store manager Mark Mitchinson said the "activity" of the lobby group was minimal and caused no problems.

"IKEA pays all taxes incurred nationally and locally in accordance with Australian laws and regulations," he said.

"It also has a positive impact on the local economy by employing more than 2500 people, as well as running several social and environmental initiatives."

Tom Greenwell from Fair Go for Canberra said he lined up outside IKEA around 8.30am on Monday while other lobbyists stood outside with banners reading "$269M of your tax dollars missing in-store".

Once let in, he and a dozen others scattered the tickets around the store and handed out fake catalogues that mocked its tax-free specials.

"'I was actually surprised that it was as easy as it was, I was pretty much dropping them down left, right and centre by the end and I wasn't getting noticed," he said.

"Then we did start to see workers checking the areas, trying to remove them, so it became a little bit of a game of cat and mouse."

He said the action was not just about IKEA, but about raising community awareness over the many multinational corporations engaged in tax minimisation.

 "Obviously the people there loved IKEA - and so do we - but we also feel like IKEA is just like everyone else and should pay tax like everyone else," Mr Greenwell said.

"The reaction I got yesterday is that people agree that we can love IKEA and expect it to pay its fair share of tax."

More than 12,000 people flowed through the doors of the new IKEA Canberra store on its first day of business, with the first customer arriving at 3.30am.