Amazon’s record low tax bill shows “complete disregard” for its workers and for UK taxpayers, a union chief has claimed.
Latest accounts show the retail giant’s corporate tax contributions fell by £2.8m last year, from £7.4m to £4.6m, despite seeing its pre-tax profits nearly treble.
And a payment deferral by the division which runs the company’s warehouse centres meant it paid just £1.7m in total last year.
TIm Roache, general secretary of the GMB trade union, which represents Amazon workers, said: “This is another example of how Amazon has complete disregard not just for its workers – we know conditions in Amazon warehouses are dreadful – but the UK taxpayer too.
“Amazon’s dodgy tax set up might mean lower prices, but the true cost is now laid bare.”
The company’s pre-tax profits jumped to £72.4m last year, from £24.3m in 2016.
A GMB investigation this summer revealed ambulances had been called out 600 times to Amazon’s UK warehouses in the past three years, to help injured and exhausted staff.
Roache said: “The government are letting down the entire country by not sorting out the tax system.
“Services are at breaking point, the NHS, care service, education and local government struggling, we’re told there’s no money but we’re letting the richest man in the world get away with this.
“It’s shameful, and it’s wrong.”
Amazon’s US share price has jumped 84% over the past two years and it recently narrowly lost out in the race to be the first trillion-dollar company.
A spokesman for the retailer 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 payment decrease was partly due to Amazon making shares payments to thousands of staff, which were counted as a cost and deducted from profits.
Over the past five years, customer order handlers received on average shares worth more than £1,000 per year.
Martin McTague, policy chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “We need to rebalance the taxation system. As things stand, business rates are rising while corporation tax is coming down. If we want to breathe life back into our high streets, that needs a rethink.”