Top retail m.d. urges government to tackle 'Amazon problem'

A leading retail m.d. has said the government must "address the Amazon problem" in order to prevent other businesses paying full tax going out of business.

In the Times today [15th November], John Lewis m.d. Andy Street is reported as saying that John Lewis could be put out of business if foreign multinationals such as Amazon are allowed to carry on paying only small amounts of tax in Britain. Street made the comments on "Jeff Randall Live" on Sky News last night.

He said: "If you actually improve your business by investing, what that means is you have got less money to invest if you're giving 27 per cent of your profits to the Exchequer, than
. . . if you're domiciled in a tax haven and you've got much more. So they will out-invest and ultimately out-trade us and that means there will not be the tax base in the UK. So I do think it's an issue that needs to be examined."

He added that he thought that John Lewis customers would expect "a fair and level playing field" in which both companies were treated the same.

Street's remarks come two days after the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee grilled executives from Amazon, Google and Starbucks about the levels of corporation tax paid by the multinational businesses in the UK.  Amazon was accused of putting UK booksellers out of business by using corporation tax avoidance strategies which made it impossible for other businesses to compete.