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Amazon grilled over business operation

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: November 13, 2012

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ONLINE retail giant Amazon was yesterday quizzed over its UK business alongside coffee shop chain Starbucks and internet search engine Google.

Amazon's public policy director, Andrew Cecil, appeared in front of MPs on the public accounts committee.

Mr Cecil was questioned about the operations of the business which runs a warehouse at Jersey Marine.

Matt Brittin, chief executive officer of Google UK and Starbucks chief Troy Alstead were also questioned.

Starbucks is reported to have paid nothing in corporation tax to the UK over the last three years and has filed losses with Companies House for most of the years it has been operating in the UK.

Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge questioned how that could happen when statements the committee had seen showed a former chief financial operator said in 2007 the division had an operating profit rate of 15 per cent.

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  • Stork  |  November 14 2012, 1:18PM

    Gwyddno HMRC actually write the Tax Rules, these are then scrutinised by Parliament and voted on. Unless there's something really contentious in the proposed Tax Rules, the proposed Tax Rules are moreorless passed through " on the nod". Most MP's are not tax experts and rely on the HMRC, to safeguard the Nation's tax collection. The blunders regarding Starbuck's and others, lay at the door of the HMRC.

  • Gwyddno  |  November 13 2012, 5:41PM

    There are £billions owed in taxes but the Libservative Government has reduced staff numbers at the HMRC. Meanwhile, the ConDem Government pays millions to Atos. HMRC do not write the laws and they cannot 'close loopholes' - That requires a Government with the will to amend current legislation.

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  • siarad2  |  November 13 2012, 5:18PM

    Parliament makes the laws - courts etc simply interpret them.

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  • swanseajock  |  November 13 2012, 4:49PM

    I agree with Stork. If there is a loophole, it is up to the HMRC to close these loopholes, not for companies or individuals to say "This is a loophole can I pay more tax?" And I could scream when I see those holier-than-thou politicians sitting on their high horses "grilling" company executives, while claiming for everything that they possibly can - wreaths/food/lights etc. These companies employ thousands who pay tax and contribute to society, so if there is a problem, change it, but give us a rest from MPs.

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  • antyall  |  November 13 2012, 4:48PM

    The French are chasing Amazon for 250 million dollars.(France24)

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  • Neathboy234  |  November 13 2012, 4:23PM

    GorsseinonJoe I agree. We should have a common EU tax policy. All the problems that we have with the EU is that there is not enough integration, not the other way around.

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  • Stork  |  November 13 2012, 1:41PM

    The likes of Starbucks and Amazon have clever accountants who check the minutiae of Company Tax Law, to find ways of reducing their company tax bill. It's all legal. The problem lies with HMRC. They draw up the tax rules, they must have known about these loopholes for ages, but haven't closed them down. Heads should roll at HMRC, but it's the Civil Service, so as far as they are concerned, it doesn't matter !

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  • brochadav  |  November 13 2012, 1:14PM

    Any profits earned in the UK should be liable for UK tax. Monies earned here are being paid to other EU countries so we suffer while the continent benefits. Starbucks, Amazon and the others should be fined for evasion and then kicked out of the UK. I'm sure we could start up our own Uk based versions and they may even pay better or create more jobs in the UK. It's sadly just another case of big money firms milking us. Vodaphone still rankles with me and that was with HMRC's co-operation!!

  • l00king  |  November 13 2012, 12:52PM

    I stopped going to Starbucks when this all broke a few weeks ago. If we all make a few small changes then it may make a difference.

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  • GorsseinonJoe  |  November 13 2012, 11:56AM

    This is so wrong and as most of the low tax countries are based in the EU there should be a common approach from the EU to the issue. Unfortunately there is no chance of this happening and people will still buy from these three and other companies so an embargo would be futile and this country will keep losing tax revenue while local, UK companies are penalised for being UK based.

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