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Amazon Had a Big Year, but Paid No Tax to Luxembourg

Amazon had a record-breaking 12 months in Europe in 2020, as the web big took in income of 44 billion euros whereas individuals had been procuring from residence in the course of the pandemic. However the firm ended up paying no company tax to Luxembourg, the place the corporate has its European headquarters.

The corporate’s European retail division reported a lack of €1.2 billion ($1.4 billion) to Luxembourg authorities, in line with a current monetary submitting, making it exempt from company taxes. The loss, which was due partially to reductions, promoting and the price of hiring new workers, additionally meant the corporate acquired €56 million in tax credit that it might use to offset future tax payments when it makes a revenue, in line with the submitting, launched in March.

Amazon was in compliance with Luxembourg’s rules, and it pays taxes to different European international locations on earnings it makes on its retail operations and different elements of the enterprise, like its achievement facilities and its cloud computing companies.

However the submitting is probably going to offer recent ammunition for European policymakers who’ve lengthy tried to power American tech giants to pay extra taxes. And the Biden administration is pushing for modifications in global tax policy as a part of an effort to boost taxes on giant companies, which have lengthy used sophisticated maneuvers to keep away from or scale back their tax obligations, together with by shifting earnings to lower-tax international locations, like Luxembourg, Ireland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

President Biden has mentioned he’s aiming to boost as a lot as $2.5 trillion over 15 years via measures akin to rising company tax charges to twenty-eight p.c from 21 p.c and imposing a minimal tax on international earnings.

Already, France has levied a 3 p.c tax on income from digital companies offered throughout the nation, an effort to wring some income from web firms — a tax that Amazon says it’s paying — however European Union-wide insurance policies have been thwarted by opposition from Washington.

In its submitting, masking 2020, Amazon avoids paying Luxembourg’s company tax, which is a tax on revenue. In 2020, Amazon’s general worldwide section reported working revenue of $717 million. And within the first three months of this year, your complete firm’s revenue soared to $8.1 billion, a rise of 220 p.c from the identical interval final 12 months. Amazon’s first-quarter filings, launched final week, additionally confirmed that it made $108.5 billion in gross sales, up 44 p.c, as extra prospects made purchases on-line due to the pandemic.

The corporate’s submitting with Luxembourg was reported earlier by The Guardian.

A spokesman for Amazon, Conor Sweeney, mentioned the corporate paid all taxes required in each nation by which it operated.

“Company tax relies on earnings, not revenues, and our earnings have remained low given our heavy investments and the truth that retail is a extremely aggressive, low-margin enterprise,” he mentioned.

Amazon has paid tax in Luxembourg beforehand, although European regulators mentioned the funds had been lower than the corporate’s fair proportion. In 2017, European competitors regulators ordered Luxembourg to assert about €250 million in unpaid taxes from 2006 via 2014 from Amazon. Amazon and Luxembourg appealed that order, and a judgment in Europe’s second-highest courtroom is anticipated subsequent week.

Margaret Hodge, a British lawmaker, mentioned Amazon had intentionally created monetary constructions to keep away from tax. “It’s obscene that they really feel that they’ll make cash world wide and that they don’t have an obligation to contribute to what I name the frequent pot for the frequent good,” she mentioned.

Matthew Gardner, a senior fellow on the Institute on Taxation and Financial Coverage, a left-leaning analysis group in Washington, mentioned Amazon’s Luxembourg submitting confirmed why there was such urgency, not solely within the European Union but additionally in america, to require a worldwide minimal tax.

“This can be a stark reminder of the excessive monetary stakes of inaction,” he mentioned.

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