Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Amazon, I can't shop with you any more

Just sent the followng to Amazon.

Dear Amazon,

I love your products, your service and your prices.

But I love the the NHS, the Police Force, schoolteachers, roads and libraries more.

By paying only £1.8million on sales of £3,500million in the last year you are putting at risk these great institutions as well as some of the country's most vulnerable people.

I won't give my money to a company that is running the UK down by not paying it's fair share of tax. You have already lost hundreds of pounds of my spending and, if you continue on your current path, you will miss out on hundreds of pounds more over the next year.

You know what is the right thing to do.

Do it.

Update 02 Jan 13
Dear reader, you may wish to sign the petition at to pressure Amazon into paying corporation tax in the UK. The petition is by Frances and Keith Smith who say :

"We pay our taxes and so should Amazon!

We run the Kenilworth and Warwick bookshops, independent shops which have been a proud part of our local high streets for many years. As we run into the busy Christmas period, we are proud of the personal service we provide to all those who visit our store.

But times are tough and getting tougher.

We face unrelenting pressure from huge online retailers undercutting prices, in particular Amazon and it's pushing businesses like ours to the brink. But what’s even worse is that Amazon, despite making sales of £2.9 BILLION in the UK last year, does not pay any UK corporation tax on the profits from those sales. 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.

All Amazon UK book and toy sales are routed through its Luxembourg subsidiary...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. As Independent booksellers, we are happy with competition in the market but it must be on level terms and by dodging corporation tax in this way, Amazon start with an unfair advantage....We pay our taxes and so should they -- please take a stand with us and tell Amazon to pay their fair share.

Until they do, please consider purchasing from local, independent shops instead.

Update 18Mar13 : Millions of Britons are using consumer power to boycott companies seen to be avoiding their fair share of UK tax, new reaserch reveals. A ComRes survey about public perceptions around tax avoidance, commissioned by Christian Aid, revealed some remarkable aspects of the UK publics views about multi-nationals and their tax payments :

34% say they are currently boycotting the products/sevices of a company because it doesn't pay its fair share of tax in the UK.
45% say they are considering a boycott.
72% of people agreed the Gov't should ensure UK-based companies pay the proper amount of tax in all countries every operate in.
89% said it is unfair that they have to pay their taxes when multinationals can avoid doing so,
85% say we need global leaders to stop multinationals from abusing the tax system, ‘People understand the importance of developing countries being able to collect tax that is owed to them by multinational corporations. Tax is a powerful weapon against poverty and three quarters of Britons agree that if developing countries could collect more tax then they would, in time, be less dependent on international aid, and therefore better able to provide for their own people,’ adds Joseph Stead. Christian Aid estimates that at present, multinationals’ tax dodging costs poor countries $160billon every year, far more than they receive in aid.

Christian Aid is part of the Enough Food For Everyone IF coalition, which is calling on governments to stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger. The group of more than 100 charities and faith organisations wants the UK public to ask their MPs to lobby the Chancellor ahead of the Budget on 20 March. Enough Food For Everyone IF wants the Chancellor to use this Budget to require multinational companies to reveal the tax avoidance schemes they use in developing countries – and to commit the UK to sharing the resulting information with the countries concerned. This would help their tax authorities to decide how best to use their very limited resources.

Update:15th May2013
An article in the Guardian reveals that the HMRC has four criteria for deciding whether a company should pay corporation tax:

1) Is there trading activity by the non-resident company?
2) Does that trading take place in the UK?
3) Does the non-resident company have a fixed place of business in the UK?
4) Is the trade carried on through that fixed place of business? Or, if there is no fixed place of business, is the trade carried on through a dependent agent?

The Guardian comments that :

"The [Amazon]company indicates on its website it carries out a wide range of activities from his corporate offices in Slough in Berkshire. It says: "UK Corporate Offices – Slough, Berkshire, England. Since 1998, our teams have developed a genuinely British site with the same commitment to customers, cutting-edge technology and rich editorial content that has made such a success. Our Slough teams manage all corporate functions, including buying, marketing, software development, sales and legal."

And yet :

"Despite Amazon EU Sarl's extensive activities in the UK, it appears that HMRC inspectors – for reasons we cannot know – have accepted the retailer's insistence that this business is not captured by these four tests."

: BFTF has heard of a company called, who work with a network of local booksellers.

: Bought a book from, for a price that was similar to that of Amazon. Hive told BFTF (via Twitter) that "Hive is a UK registered company and as such are liable for, and pay, all relevant UK taxes. We’re UK through and through." and that, in relation to the commssion they paid local independent booksellers "Commission is dictated by value of the order. Typically it's between 2%-20%, but as stated, it varies depending on your order." say they pay taxes and pay 2-20% commission to local bookstores

Related Links
38degrees Tax Dodger Guide
Amazon Warehouse in Spain (Source)