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Amazon under pressure after paying just £293 million in UK tax despite Jeff Bezos being the world’s richest man

Calls have grown for MPs to deal with the low tax payments to the UK coffers

Leading MPs today slammed the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos after his company Amazon paid just £293 million in tax to UK coffers last year.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge — who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Responsible Tax alongside Tory MP Andrew Mitchell — said Bezos had a moral obligation to pay more tax in this country.

Hodge said: “His failure to pay tax on profits is utterly obnoxious. The company deliberately uses opaque financial structures to export profits to low tax jurisdictions. He’s about to hire 7000 more people in the UK, he needs a well-educated workforce and a healthy one. Why doesn’t he contribute to investment in public services?”

Amazon’s low tax bill comes despite revenues from UK operations climbing 26% to £13.7 billion in 2019, up from £10.9 billion a year earlier, as customers stuck in lockdown ordered more to their homes. Amazon does not reveal how much profit is makes in the country, although it said: “Operating profits remain relatively low.”

This year’s corporation tax payment was reduced due to increased capital spending and research and development expenditure, Amazon added.

Hodge wants to see the UK take the lead in implementing a global tech tax that could see Amazon and rivals like Facebook and Google pay more.

The MP for Barking also called for a crackdown on bankers, lawyers and accountants who create complicated tax structures for their clients worldwide. “The enablers need to be cracked down on also. There’s a lot of talented bankers, lawyers and accountants hired to find the loopholes in the law.”

Last year Amazon invested more than £690 million in its UK infrastructure as it expanded its portfolio of distribution centres and opened its Manchester corporate office.

The group said it has now directly invested more than £23 billion into its UK operations since 2010.

Last week it announced plans to hire another 7,000 staff this year to aid its growth strategy.

Earlier this week the firm announced John Boumphrey as the new boss of its UK operations, taking over from current country manager Doug Gurr in November.

The tax bill is hard to swallow given that in 2019 Bezos became the richest man in the world with a fortune worth £148.5 billion, over taking Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Amazon, which is valued at around £1.24 trillion was founded in 1994 by Bezos, a former hedge fund executive.

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