Amazon under attack over tax while 10,000 high street shops close this year

Online shopping giant Amazon has come under fresh attack for failing to pay its “fair share” in tax while more than 10,000 high street stores have shut this year.

It comes as the Mirror launches a “Have a happy High Street Christmas” drive urging people to shop locally in a bid to halt the demise of shops.

The Centre for Retail Research found 10,503 small independent shops closed in the first nine months of 2019, costing almost 45,000 jobs.

The GMB union estimates Amazon should have paid £103million corporation tax last year. But Amazon’s biggest UK arm which discloses its accounts paid £14million.

Separate figures suggest Amazon’s warehouses pay a 10th of the business rates, on a comparable basis, of its high street rivals.

The Mirror asked rates experts Altus to use one of Amazon’s warehouses, at Coalville in Leicestershire, as an example.

It found it will pay £2,358,720 in ­business rates – the rateable value calculated at £50 per square metre.


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But 20 miles away in Loughborough, shops competing with Amazon can pay more than 10 times that rate.

Waterstones book shop pays £550 per square metre, games shop Game, £325 per square metre, and music store HMV, £300 per square metre.

The average business rates bill for an Amazon warehouse in England and Wales is £1,427,713, based on a £50.38 per square metre average.

Amazon refuses to disclose how much UK corporation tax it pays. So the GMB made its own calculation, based on a profit margin of 4.8%.

On £11.3billion of UK sales last year, there would be £544million profit, and £103million would be due in corporation tax, which would be £142million under Labour’s plans to increase corporation tax to 26%.

Amazon UK Services, the largest of the firm’s UK businesses to publish accounts, made £75.4million profit on £2.3billion of sales last year, and paid £14million in corporation tax.

Prof Richard Murphy, a tax expert from City, University of London, said “Analysis of Amazon’s accounts shows it underpays tax in the UK.”

Mick Rix, of the GMB, said: “Small businesses are being forced to the wall while billion-dollar multinationals enjoy tax breaks thanks to a cosy relationship with Tory cronies.”

Amazon said: “These calculations are completely incorrect.

“Among other things, they assume uniformity of profits across geographies, which isn’t the case.”

An Amazon spokesperson said: “These calculations are completely incorrect.

“Among other things, they assume uniformity of profits across geographies, which isn’t the case. 

“Our international consumer business is still investing heavily and is loss-making, as can be seen in our annual report. 

“In the UK, we’ve invested £18bn since 2010 and we employ 29,500 people. 

“Our total tax contribution in the UK in 2018 was £793m.”

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