Amazon Hands £492 Million to UK Taxman From £20 Billion Revenue

By Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.
September 8, 2021 Updated: September 8, 2021

Amazon handed £492 million ($678 million) to the UK taxman last year, from a total of £20 billion ($27 billion) in revenue, as the pandemic and lockdowns nitro-charged their online sales.

Figures filed recently in Companies House show total revenues of £20.63 billion for the group in the UK during 2020, up from £13.73 billion ($18.93 billion) in 2019.

Amazon’s taxes have often become something of a lightning rod for anger at how Big Tech multinationals appear to side-step UK taxes.

Amazon said in a statement on Sept. 7 that it has plunged over £32 billion ($44 billion) of investments into its UK operations in the last decade.

The company also says it helps to “fund public services and infrastructure” through a further £1.1 billion ($1.52 billion) that ended up in the coffers of the Treasury via “indirect taxes,” such as VAT paid by its customers or income tax from its employees.

Amazon invested more than £1.6 billion ($2.2 billion) in its British operations amid the lockdown-fuelled surge in online shopping.

Amazon said: “We are proud of the significant economic contribution we are making to the UK economy.

“Looking ahead, we know that the UK remains full of opportunity and we continue to be excited by the potential to continue to invest, create jobs, develop talent, and have a positive impact in communities across the country.”

The publication of Amazon’s tax bill makes for awkward optics for the Conservative government, emerging just as the prime minister announced a hike in National Insurance that some analysts say effectively pushes taxation to the highest since World War II.

Amid growing concerns that Big Tech firms are channeling their profits through low-tax jurisdictions, last year the UK government launched a 2 percent tax on digital sales.

Controversy surrounds Amazon and its UK tax bill, as the group officially reports its British retail sales through Luxembourg, with Amazon UK services representing only a small part of the wider UK operation.

But the technology titan stressed its UK retail sales, related expenses, profits, and taxes are recorded in the UK and therefore reported, and paid, directly to HM Revenue & Customs.

Amazon’s UK workforce now stands at more than 55,000 after another 10,000 jobs have been created so far this year, with more staff being recruited to meet soaring demand.

For the finance ministers of many nations, the ability of big multinational tech giants to funnel profits through the path of least tax resistance and to shift profits to tax havens has been a long-standing concern.

After eight years of talks, the G-7 this year agreed to a collective solution, backing a minimum global corporate tax rate of at least 15 percent.

Facebook said it expected it would have to pay more tax in more countries as a result of the deal.

PA and Reuters contributed to this report.

Simon Veazey
Freelance Reporter
Simon Veazey is a UK-based journalist who has reported for The Epoch Times since 2006 on various beats, from in-depth coverage of British and European politics to web-based writing on breaking news.