Amazon books admit it paid just £3m tax on sales of £4 billion

Amazon paid corporation tax of just �2.4 million last year despite earning sales of �4.2 billion.
Amazon paid corporation tax of just �2.4 million last year despite earning sales of �4.2 billion.
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THE UK arm of internet shopping giant Amazon paid corporation tax of just £2.4 million last year despite earning sales of £4.2 billion.

Details of the American firm’s tax contribution were revealed in filings at Companies House and come as internet group Google is today due to be quizzed by MPs about its tax bill.

The revelation follows uproar over the tax paid by other multinational giants including Starbucks and Apple.

Google vice president Matt Brittin is due to appear before the Commons Public Accounts Committee months after it last quizzed the firm about its taxes.

Chairwoman of the committee Margaret Hodge said she plans to haul Amazon back to explain its financial dealings after its company filings showed paid tax of £3.2 million in 2012, on sales of £320 million.

The Seattle-based group told has investors its 2012 UK sales were £4.2 billion.

Amazon received UK Government grants of £2.5 million last year, beating its corporation tax payments.

Amazon reduced tax payments by routing its sales through Luxembourg where its European headquarters are.

Mrs Hodge told the Guardian: “My committee has real concerns about the extent to which companies like Amazon are stretching the rules in order to avoid paying their fair share in tax.

“By any measure of common sense Amazon appears to have a proper established presence in the UK, and there is a discrepancy between some of the evidence in this report about its activities in the UK and what the committee was told by Amazon when they appeared before us last year. We will now consider whether we need to recall them to explain that discrepancy.”

A report in December by the committee accused Amazon, Google and Starbucks of ‘’immorally’’ minimising their UK tax bills.

The firms were criticised for the ‘’unconvincing and, in some cases, evasive’’ evidence they gave on why their corporation tax payments were so low.

Amazon’s accounts show the firm had 4,191 UK staff at the end of 2012.

A spokeswoman for tax avoidance campaign group UK Uncut said: “It’s an absolute disgrace that Amazon is paying such tiny amounts in tax.

“The Government should be clamping down on tax avoidance rather than slashing the welfare state, privatising the NHS and cutting legal aid for ordinary people.

“This shows us yet again that the Government is making a political choice rather than an economic necessity.”

The company said: “Amazon pays all applicable taxes in every jurisdiction that it operates within. Amazon EU serves tens of millions of customers and sellers throughout Europe from multiple consumer websites in a number of languages dispatching products to all 27 countries in the EU.

“We have a single European headquarters in Luxembourg with hundreds of employees to manage this complex operation.”

The uproar over Starbucks’ tax bill last year prompted the coffee shop chain to make an unprecedented £20 million tax “donation” which it said was “above what is currently required by law”.

Department store chain John Lewis has called for the Government to tackle companies that pay little or no tax before they damage the economy.

Managing director Andy Street warned that multinationals which rely on overseas tax havens will “outinvest and ultimately out-trade” businesses paying full taxes in the UK - and could force them out of business.