Amazon paid just £15million of tax on booming sales of almost £20billion across Europe, new figures show.
Just two days after the Mail exposed how Amazon was due to receive a £1.3million tax rebate on its £7.3billion of retail sales in the UK, accounts filed in Luxembourg lay bare the full scale of the internet firm’s tax bill.
Campaigners said the figures raised ‘massive questions’ about the firm’s accounting practices, with MPs calling for the Government to rethink the way it taxes foreign technology companies.
On Thursday, the Mail told how Amazon UK Services arm – its warehouse and logistics operation that employs two-thirds of its 24,000 staff – more than halved its corporation tax for 2016.
However, these accounts did not include the sales Amazon made in the UK. According to accounts filed in the US these were £7.3billion. The full details of its European sales are wrapped up in a company based in Luxembourg.
These accounts now show that of £19.5billion of sales across Europe – of which £7.3billion was in the UK – Amazon paid a total tax bill of £15million.
This is not thought to include the figures already filed in the UK services arm.
The company insists profits have fallen due to the investment it has made across Europe. However, the opaque reporting structure further calls into question Amazon’s tax affairs.
Paul Monaghan, director of the Fair Tax Mark campaign, said: ‘It is an incredibly low rate of tax that Amazon is paying. That raises massive questions of concern. Until we get full country-by-country reporting we cannot find out what is really going on.’
Labour’s Peter Dowd, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘It is deeply worrying that the Government has not taken the action needed to stop companies transferring their UK profits into low tax jurisdictions, or managing their tax bill down in other ways.
There is no suggestion that Amazon has acted outside the law, but the ability for some large global companies to undercut other UK businesses by lowering their tax liabilities is a stark illustration of the Conservatives’ failure to ensure the tax system keeps pace with the way some companies operate.’
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable has also accused Amazon of taking ministers ‘for a ride’.
Amazon has declared its UK sales to the taxman through a company based here since May 2015, thereby avoiding a diverted profits tax.
However its overarching European arm, Luxembourg-based Amazon Europe, reports overall sales on the continent.
For the year ending December 31, it reported a profit of £54million and a tax bill of just £15million. Its separate UK services division declared a turnover of £1.4billion.
Amazon said yesterday: ‘Amazon pays all the taxes that are required in every country where we operate.
‘We’ve invested over €20billion (£18.2billion) in Europe since 2010, and expect to hire 15,000 new employees this year, bringing our total permanent European workforce to over 65,000 people.’