Online auction and shopping giant eBay has reportedly avoided paying nearly £50 million in corporation tax in Britain.

It is thought eBay used legal tax-avoidance schemes, which saw it channel payments through Luxembourg and Switzerland.

The group paid just over £1 million in UK corporation tax despite making nearly £800 million annual sales in Britain, according to a Sunday Times investigation.

EBay is the latest firm to see its tax payments come under scrutiny after coffee chain Starbucks reportedly paid just £8.6 million in corporation tax in 14 years of trading in Britain - and nothing in the last three years.

The American coffee firm - valued at £25 billion - is understood to have generated more than £3 billion of sales in the UK since 1998, but has paid less than 1% in corporation tax.

Facebook and Google have also been criticised over poor contributions to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

It was revealed earlier this month that Facebook paid only £238,000 in tax in the UK despite pulling in £175 million in revenues, while Google reportedly paid £6 million in UK tax despite revenues of £2.6 billion.

The Sunday Times reported that eBay would have made UK profits of around £181 million in 2010, the latest year for which accounts are available.

This would have produced a corporation tax bill of £51 million.

But the group is believed to have paid £1.2 million in tax that year.

It is thought HMRC head Lin Homer will be questioned in a hearing by MPs on the Commons public accounts committee on November 5 over tax avoidance strategies used by foreign firms.

An eBay spokesman said: "eBay Inc. in Europe works with tax authorities and complies fully with all applicable tax laws and regimes - including national, EU, and internationally recognised OECD rules."