G20 tax move could affect Amazon

Tax structures used by Amazon could be shut down following a G20 move to close international loopholes.

Chancellor George Osborne met with fellow finance ministers in Moscow last week, the Guardian reports, discussing a 15-point action plan produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), that covers “Base Erosion and Profit Shifting”.

He said: People and companies have to pay the taxes that are due, it's the only way to operate in a fair and competitive society . . . Our message is clear: everyone must pay their fair share of tax."

France's Pierre Moscovici agreed with the chancellor, calling the discussion a "major breakthrough" and adding: "It is clear multinational companies have developed an unprecedented know-how for minimising their worldwide tax pressure. These situations are literally impossible to explain to our fellow citizens."

The OECD plan will lead to firm recommendations within 12 to 30 months, and has the support of a number of nations, including Brazil, India, China, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Ireland. One proposal is that multinationals with warehouses will be taxed in the country where the distribution centres are located.

OECD secretary-general Angel Gurría said: "This Action Plan, which we will roll out over the coming two years, marks a turning point in the history of international tax co-operation. International tax rules, many of them dating from the 1920s, ensure that businesses don’t pay taxes in two countries—double taxation. This is laudable, but unfortunately these rules are now being abused to permit double non-taxation. The Action Plan aims to remedy this, so multinationals also pay their fair share of taxes."

Booksellers across the UK have blasted Amazon for the amount of tax it pays in the UK. In April, Francis and Keith Smith from Warwick and Kenilworth Bookshops handed in a petition to 10 Downing Street, urging the online retailer to pay a fair share of tax. More than 150,000 signed the petition.