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Amazon under fire as accounts reveal it paid just 9.7m in tax on 4.7bn sales

Amazon today sparked fresh controversy about its tax avoidance as accounts showed it paid only £9.7 million in corporation tax in Britain last year, despite revenues in the UK rising 13% to a record £4.7 billion.

The online retail giant’s accounts for reported sales of only £449 million.

However, the US parent company’s stock market results have shown it made 10 times that amount from Britain. Most of the £4.7 billion in sales were processed offshore in Luxembourg, allowing it to avoid UK tax.

Margaret Hodge, Commons Public Accounts Committee chairman, a vehement critic of Amazon’s tax practices, said: “It’s not on. Everything you get from them says on it. Every parcel you get from them says Royal Mail with a British stamp on it. To their customer base, they pretend to be British, yet they refuse to pay their tax. All we ask is that they pay a fair tax on their business in the UK.”

The Labour MP went on: “It’s unfair to community bookshops, it’s unfair to John Lewis — British businesses providing British jobs.”

Department store chain John Lewis and supermarket giant Sainsbury’s are among retailers to criticise Amazon for gaining what they say is an unfair advantage by selling offshore to cut costs.’s accounts show it paid nearly twice as much corporation tax than a year earlier when it paid £5.1 million. The UK subsidiary declared pre-tax profits of £17.1 million against £10.9 million in 2012. Revenues climbed to £449 million from £320 million.

Companies only pay tax on profits and Amazon is known for running at close to break-even.

British staff rose 41% to 5900, with a £203 million wage bill. Amazon has come under fire for using many temporary workers but says it now pays 20 hours minimum a week.

Source : Gideon Spanier - London Evening Standard

09 May 2014
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