Amazon Tax Petition To Hit Downing Street Tomorrow

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Amazon pays no UK tax, petition complains

While Amazon holds its cloud-promoting AWS Summit in London, a petition demanding it pay more tax in the UK is about to be delivered to 10 Downing Street. The book- and cloud-seller paid no corporation tax at all on its profits in the UK in 2011.

The petition, started by independent booksellers Frances and Keith Smith, has picked up more than 115,000 signatures through Change.org and will be handed to David Cameron at Number 10 on Wednesday 24 April – the day after National Book Night.

Amazon tax dodge

amazon petition - Frances and Keith Smith Coventry “We pay our fair share, and so should they,” say Frances and Keith, who run the Kenilworth and Warwick bookshops, which they describe as “independent shops which have been a proud part of our local high streets for many years.”

Despite making sales of £2.9 billion in 2012, Amazon paid no UK corporation tax on is profits because sales are accounted at its European headquarters in Luxembourg.

“In my book, that is not a level playing field and leaves independent retailers like us struggling to compete just because we do the right thing,” say the Smiths. “Experts say if Amazon’s total UK sales profits were not funnelled to Luxembourg, it could be paying as much as £100m a year in British corporation tax.”

Along with Google and non-tech firms such as Starbucks, Amazon has faced continuous criticism of its tax affairs, and has responded (like the others) that it is following the letter of the law.

Despite this, Amazon’s director of UK public policy Andrew Cecil had a mauling from Margaret Hodge, chair of the public accounts committee, in November. When he refused to provide UK-specific sales figures, she said “it’s outrageous”, and called for a “serious person” who would answer her questions.

The 2011 UK figures from Amazon trickled out later, revealing £2.9 billion in sales for 2011.

Given Amazon’s steadfast assertion that it is doing nothing wrong, the Smiths are suggesting that customers vote with their pockets, and “please consider purchasing from local, independent shops instead”. 

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