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Amazon’s tax bill falls despite huge increase in pre-tax profit

The online retail giant’s UK bill came in at £4.6m last year, down from £7.4m a year earlier, but the company only paid £1.7m in tax.

Amazon UK’s corporate tax bill fell by £2.8 million last year despite the company seeing pre-tax profits nearly treble.

The online retail giant’s UK bill came in at £4.6 million last year, down from £7.4 million a year earlier, Amazon UK Services Limited accounts show.

But the company only paid £1.7 million in tax after deferring £2.9 million of that total.

That was despite pre-tax profits jumping to £72.4 million from £24.3 million in 2016, according to figures filed to Companies House.

Amazon UK Services Ltd operates “fulfilment centres” which store, process and post products to customers in the UK and had an average of around 20,000 workers last year.

Turnover for 2017 was £1.99 billion, up from £1.46 billion in 2016.

A spokesman 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.

Amazon’s US share price has jumped 84% over the past two years.

Martin McTague, policy chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “The rise of online shopping has undoubtedly caused many challenges for small businesses. Most small firms are moving with the times though, and online sales are often a natural complement to high street shops.

“Small businesses are at the heart of their communities, providing a hub for people to shop, meet and socialise. That’s not something a retailer operating exclusively online is going to give you.

“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.”

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