Critics hit out at Amazon after web giant refuses to disclose how much tax it paid on UK profits
Amazon came under fire last night after it refused to disclose how much tax it paid on profits made in the UK.
The US giant published some details of its finances in an effort to be more transparent after being criticised for years for not paying its fair share.
It said it incurred £492million of ‘direct taxes’ – an increase of £199million – on £20.6billion of UK sales last year.
Amazon published some details of its finances revealing it incurred £492m of ‘direct taxes’ on sales. But critics labelled the release a ‘PR exercise’ as it dodged questions on corporation tax
But critics labelled the release a ‘PR exercise’ and the ‘opposite of meaningful transparency’ as it dodged questions on corporation tax.
The company released figures for its warehouse and logistics operation, Amazon UK Services – but the subsidiary is only about a quarter of its UK business.
It paid £18.3million corporation tax on profits of £128million, a rate of 14.3 per cent and significantly lower than the UK’s rate of 19 per cent.
During the pandemic, Britons flocked to Amazon’s online shop, its Prime television streaming service and grocery stores, swelling its takings by half compared to 2019.
To fuel rapid expansion, it invested £1.6billion in new warehouses and technology centres and hired 10,000 staff, taking its UK workforce to 55,000.
Alex Cobham, chief executive of campaign group Tax Justice, said: ‘This is tax-wash. It’s the opposite of meaningful transparency and is really pretty much meaningless.
Amazon… don’t publish either the profit, or the tax they pay on that profit, which is basic transparency, which we expect from every company.’
George Turner, director of the Taxwatch think-tank, said: ‘Amazon’s annual PR exercise, which includes the trumpeting of the amount of tax they collect on behalf of their sellers in VAT, fools no one.
‘Amazon maintains a structure which sees customers in the UK billed from Luxembourg for services bought and delivered in the UK.
‘We do not know how much in corporation tax Amazon pays in the UK, and their latest release makes us none the wiser.’