The great tax charade: Amazon plays the system while businesses like ours suffer

Clearly, Amazon do their business here. So they should pay tax here too

Related Topics

Tax is in the news again. Reports this week have revealed that Amazon has paid only £3m on £4bn sales, while Google executives were hauled up in front of the Public Accounts Committee to explain how they manage their tax affairs. It seems that tax has become the issue of the day - and quite right too because, far away from the corridors of power and the gleaming HQs of Amazon and Google, it's people like us who are feeling the pressure caused by tax avoiders - but it's also people like us who are fighting back against them.

Last December we started a petition on calling on Amazon to pay a proper rate of corporation tax. We own a pair of independent book shops in Warwickshire. All around us the high street is, essentially, collapsing. It’s too simplistic to say that this is just because of online retail - online is a reality and we compete as best we can. It’s simply not fair that Amazon starts at a an advantage on every sale because it’s not paying its fair share of tax. We love competition, we love making our shops inviting for customers. We are not happy to sit by and watch our high streets fall to pieces because of the sharp practice of a few companies and the inaction of our government.

Our petition, quite unexpectedly, took off. Celebrities including Charlie Higson and Stephen Fry got behind us; we had other book retailers get in touch as well as the Booksellers Association and many, many others. Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee who gave Google, Amazon and Starbucks their infamous grilling last Autumn, also got in touch. We took our petition to Downing Street with 150k signatures. Now we have nearly 170,000 in a huge outpouring of support from across the country.

Governments all over Europe are concerned about the levels of corporation tax they've been receiving. More and more huge corporations have found ways by clever accounting to reduce their tax liabilities and vast amounts of cash are accumulating in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens - some under the jurisdiction of the British government. Billions and billions of dollars, pounds and euros are being taken out of  our economies and we are all feeling the results.

David Cameron intends to discuss the issue at the G8 conference, but will any real action be taken?

The UK government is very concerned that we should encourage big business to come the UK, which is all well and good if appropriate taxes are paid here. We need to investigate carefully if such businesses are really adding to UK wealth or merely using our good name, secure employment laws, banking system etc and then leeching money from our financial base. The bare facts are these: When you buy a book from Amazon on the Amazon UK site and pay for it, the book is dispatched from a warehouse in the UK, delivered to you using either Royal Mail or a UK distributor, but your purchase is not registered in the UK so no corporation tax is due to the HMRC. On the other hand when Warwick Books and Kenilworth Books sell a book, we pay corporation tax on our profits and add a few thousand pounds per year to Government coffers as a result - thus paying our bit towards the infrastructure we all enjoy in a civilised society.

It doesn't seem too much to expect from our leaders that they stand up equally for small retailers like us as they seem to do for bigger companies. It seems perfectly clear to us that Amazon do their business here and they should pay tax here like we do. It’s also absolutely clear that there are lots and lots of voters out there who agree with us.

We don’t know whether, ultimately, our campaign will have an impact. We are just two people who were fed up with seeing our local high streets ruined by the Amazon behemoth. But there does seem to be a growing feeling that, while these companies are welcome to trade here, it’s high time they started putting their hands in their pockets, the way we have to. A strong society relies on a fair tax system.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - web services, XML and API

£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...

Primary teachers required for schools in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi where Mohammad Asghar is being held  

Mohammed Ashgar: A Briton on death row in Pakistan who the Government must act to save

David Morrisey
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs  

When most porn is packaged for men, is it any wonder women get their sexual kicks from erotica?

Justine Elyot
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style