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BA re-promotes indies' Amazon tax campaign
15.05.14 | Lisa Campbell
Bookshops are being encouraged to redisplay "We Pay Our Taxes" posters following the recent disclosure of how much corporation tax Amazon still pays in the UK.
The point-of-sale postcards, flyers and posters were first produced by the Booksellers Association in December 2012 when news of Amazon's low corporation tax payments in the UK in comparison to its exceptionally large sales first surfaced.
Last week, Amazon accounts filed at Companies House showed that the company paid £4.2m in tax to the UK government to the year ending last December on a hefty £4.3bn of goods sales- more than that of UK companies Argos, Dixons and the non-food arm of Marks & Spencer. While its tax bill was £1m more than a year earlier, the company was able to knock down its tax charge from £9.7m to £4.2m after using a deferred tax credit of £5.6m. The accounts show that despite its tax payment record, the government continues to fund its warehouse building and last year it received £2.1m in government grants.
Chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts committee Margaret Hodge has since said she is boycotting Amazon over its record and has encouraged other to do the same.
The BA's striking red posters displaying slogans such as "Can Pay Do Pay, We Pay Our Taxes" and "Your Money, Your Bookshop, Your Community, We Pay Our Taxes" are now available for members to download again on the BA's website to help communicate the message to consumers that the tax playing field between online retailers and high street retailers is not level.
Tim Walker, president of the BA, said that bricks and mortar businesses pay "an awful lot more" in corporation tax than Amazon does as a proportion of their sales and these posters help them to get that message across to customers. "Most independent bookshops are small and everyone knows Amazon is huge, so I think it is a pretty effective message", he said.
Tim Godfray, chief executive of The Booksellers Association, added:"The high-profile tax-avoidance of individuals and corporations has been much in the news these last few days. Margaret Hodge quite rightly pointed to the differences between the contribution that High Street booksellers make, not just to the treasury but also to the economy and the community, and Amazon’s approach. We thought it the right time to help booksellers who want to, to get across to consumers the message that they pay their taxes.”
While US records show that Amazon UK made £4.3bn in sales last year, the UK accounts filed declare a turnover of just £449m for 2013 (up 40% on 2012), because of the complicated way Amazon structures its European business. Basing its European headquarters in tax haven of Luxembourg, Amazon claims all UK sales are made from that country and the registered UK turnover figure is from payments for its warehousing, distribution and administrative work, such as negotiating purchasing deals with book publishers.
Amazon.co.uk also reported profits of £17m in 2013.
A note in the company accounts said its principle activities was "the provision of fulfilment and corporate support services to other Amazon companies" and adds "The business is expected to continue in this capacity for the foreseeable future."