Fresh questions have been raised over Amazon’s tax planning after its latest corporate filings in Luxembourg revealed that the company collected record sales income of €44bn (£38bn) in Europe last year but did not have to pay any corporation tax to the Grand Duchy.
Accounts for Amazon EU Sarl, through which it sells products to hundreds of millions of households in the UK and across Europe, show that despite collecting record income, the Luxembourg unit made a €1.2bn loss and therefore paid no tax.
In fact the unit was granted €56m in tax credits it can use to offset any future tax bills should it turn a profit. The company has €2.7bn worth of carried forward losses stored up, which can be used against any tax payable on future profits.
The Luxembourg unit – which handles sales for the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden – employs just 5,262 staff meaning that the income per employ amounts to €8.4m.
Margaret Hodge, a Labour MP who has long campaigned against tax avoidance, said: “It seems that Amazon’s relentless campaign of appalling tax avoidance continues.
“Amazon’s revenues have soared under the pandemic while our high streets struggle, yet it continues to shift its profits to tax havens like Luxembourg to avoid paying its fair share of tax. These big digital companies all rely on our public services, our infrastructure, and our educated and healthy workforce. But unlike smaller businesses and hard-working taxpayers, the tech giants fail to pay fairly into the common pot for the common good.
“President Biden has proposed a new, fairer system for taxing large corporations and digital companies but the UK has not come out in support of the reforms. The silence is deafening. The government must act and help to grasp this once-in-a-generation opportunity to banish corporate tax avoidance to a thing of the past.”
Paul Monaghan, the chief executive of the Fair Tax Foundation, said: “These figures are mind-blowing, even for Amazon. We are seeing exponentially accelerated market domination across the globe on the back of income that continues to be largely untaxed – allowing it to unfairly undercut local businesses that take a more responsible approach.
“The bulk of Amazon’s UK income is booked offshore, in the enormously loss-making Luxembourg subsidiary, which means that not only are they not making a meaningful tax contribution now, but are unlikely to do so for years to come given the enormous carried forward losses they have now built up there.”
The Amazon EU Sarl accounts filed in Luxembourg show 2020 sales rose by €12bn from €32bn in 2019. The accounts, that extend to just 23 pages (compared with hundreds of pages for large UK companies), do not break down how much money Amazon made from sales in each European country.
However, Amazon’s US accounts show that its UK income soared by 51% last year to a record $26.5bn (£19.4bn) as people at home during the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns turned to it for online shopping as high street stores remained closed for most of the year, while homeworking drove increased use of its cloud software, Amazon Web Services.
While Amazon celebrated the rise in revenue collected from UK customers, it did not state how much corporation tax it paid in the UK in total last year. The company, which has made its founder and outgoing chief executive Jeff Bezos a $200bn fortune, paid just £293m in tax in 2019 despite the company collecting UK sales of $17.5bn that year.