Jeremy Corbyn has written to Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos to wish the retailer “many happy tax returns” on its 25th birthday.
The Labour leader has launched a not-so-subtle attack on the retailer and its notoriously low tax bills here in the UK as it celebrates its silver anniversary.
In a card addressed to Bezos, Corbyn wrote: “Dear Jeff. Happy Birthday. You owe the British people millions in taxes that pay for the public services that we all rely on. This year, pay your fair share of taxes, give your hard-working staff a pay rise and respect workers’ rights. Many Happy Tax Returns, Jeremy.”
My card to @Amazon on its 25th birthday.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) July 5, 2019
Despite coming under continuous criticism from politicians and public figures alike, Amazon maintains it pays the legal amount of corporation tax in the UK, which is based on profits as opposed to turnover.
Earlier this year an investigation by the Daily Mirror revealed that Amazon had paid a total of £61.7 million in corporation tax over the past 20 years, despite making a total UK turnover of around £7 billion.
This compares to physical UK retailers like M&S, which paid £65.4 million corporation tax just last year, Tesco which paid £176 million, Dixons Carphone which paid £42 million and John Lewis which paid £43 million.
Amazon has been accused of “taking advantage of the international tax system to exploit the UK” and diverting sales abroad to limit its tax bill.
Prior to 2015 any money Amazon made on sales to UK customers went to Luxembourg, which has lower corporation tax.
The online retailer voluntarily changed this system after coming under pressure.
Although its retail sales still go to Luxembourg first, they’re then returned to the UK and its profits are taxed.
In response to criticisms, Amazon said: “We pay all taxes required in the UK and every country where we operate.
“Corporation tax is based on profits, not revenues, and our profits have remained low given retail is a highly competitive, low-margin business and our continued heavy investment.”
This has led to calls for an “Amazon tax” which seeks to rethink the way big tech companies are taxed in the UK.
The government will introduce this new tax from April next year, including a two per cent tax on revenue from search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces that make more than £500 million a year globally.