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Amazon’s ‘dodgy tax set-up’ shows the government is ‘letting down the country,’ says GMB

The richest man in the world Jeff Bezos's company paid just £1.7 million in tax last year

AMAZON workers’ union GMB has condemned as shameful and wrong that the net giant’s British tax bill dropped by £2.8 million last year despite pre-tax profits nearly trebling.

The online retail giant’s bill totalled £4.6 million last year — down from £7.4m the previous year — and it only paid £1.7m after deferring £2.9m of that total, according to Amazon UK Services Ltd accounts.

Its tax bill was just 6 per cent of profits, since figures filed at Companies House show the firm’s pre-tax profits jumped from £24.3m to £72.4m in 2016.

Amazon UK operates 18 warehouses known as “fulfilment centres” across England, Wales and Scotland, employing about 20,000 people last year. GMB says they are working under conditions in which they are “treated like robots.” 

A union investigation this summer revealed that ambulances had been called 600 times to the warehouses in the past three years.

GMB general secretary Tim Roache said that Amazon’s accounts shows that the government is “letting down the country by not sorting out the tax system.

He said: “Amazon’s dodgy tax set-up might mean lower prices, but the true cost is now laid bare.

“Services are at breaking point, the NHS, care services, education and local government struggling, we’re told there’s no money — but we’re letting the richest man in the world [Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos] get away with this. It’s shameful and it’s wrong.”

Labour voiced concern for the high streets “falling to their knees” as a result of lack of government support and high business rates.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said: “As if that wasn’t bad enough, this morally bankrupt government also watches on as Amazon’s profits continue to soar while its workers are forced to endure Victorian working conditions.

“The next Labour government will crack down on tax dodging by the super-rich and big corporations under our tax transparency and enforcement programme.”

An Amazon spokesman 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.”

The tax decrease has been attributed partly to share payments to thousands of staff, which were deducted from profits, but it has not been reported how big a factor this was in reducing the bill.

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