100,000 signatures on petition to shame Amazon over tax dealings
A petition on Change.org, started by a couple who own two independent bookstores, calling on the giant online retailer Amazon to pay its “fair share” of taxes this morning garnered 100,000 supporters.
Frances and Keith Smith, who run the Kenilworth and Warwick bookshops in Coventry, argue that local stores like theirs are now facing “unrelenting pressure” on their sales because of huge online retailers like Amazon. Due to Amazon’s large scale its margins are much greater than independent stores so that even ignoring the fact that Amazon pays a tiny fraction of the tax that it should, an unlevel playing field is created.
Last year, a committee of MPs slammed Amazon along with Starbucks and Google for using what they described as “immoral” and “evasive” tactics to avoid paying the proper amount of tax by using tax havens, such as Luxembourg and massaging overheads to inflate outgoings.
Indeed, Amazon is reported to have paid a mere £1.8million in tax on an estimated £2.9billion worth of sales on the UK alone last year. In the petition the Smiths claim:
“[Amazon is] pushing businesses like ours to the brink… 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.”
With the deepest recession in living memory, more and more independent stores are going out of business, creating ghost-towns where there once was bustling high-streets. Amazon’s monumental sales but tiny tax bills must no doubt leave a sour taste for smaller businesses, and sure enough the petition has rapidly received widespread support.
Now that the petition has gained over 100,000 signatures, the Smiths will be able to take their plea to Downing Street.
“We pay our taxes and so should Amazon,” say the Smiths.