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Amazon’s main retail arm in Europe paid no corporation tax in Luxembourg last year

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By Euronews
In this Thursday April 16, 2020 file photo, The Amazon logo is seen in Douai, northern France. Amazon paid zero corporate tax in Europe, despite a record sales income.
In this Thursday April 16, 2020 file photo, The Amazon logo is seen in Douai, northern France. Amazon paid zero corporate tax in Europe, despite a record sales income.   -   Copyright  Michel Spingler/AP

Amazon paid zero corporation tax in Luxembourg last year, despite seeing a record sales income of €44 billion.

As first reported by The Guardian, accounts for Amazon EU Sarl published online showed that despite making billions of dollars in sales, the company's Luxembourg unit, which oversees retail in countries across Europe, made a €1.2 billion loss and therefore paid zero tax.

Not only did the company not have to pay corporate tax, but it was also handed €56 million in tax credits to offset future tax bills in the event that it does turn a profit. That also comes on top of €2.7 billion in losses that have been carried forward and can be used to offset future tax bills.

Amazon's Luxembourg unit oversees sales in France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Poland and employs thousands of workers.

The retail giant set up shop in Luxembourg in 2003 and quickly secured a confidential agreement with tax authorities in the low-tax country, where many major companies have offices.

In 2017, the European Commission found that Luxembourg had offered Amazon at least €250 million in tax advantages, which was branded illegal state support. Luxembourg appealed against the determination, however, and proceedings in the case are still ongoing.

In a statement on Twitter, high-profile economics expert Yanis Varoufakis took aim at the European Union for not doing more to prevent companies like Amazon from benefiting from Luxembourg's tax laws.

"If the EU had a semblance of decency, a troika should be sent to Luxembourg & its banks should be shut down," Varoufakis, who Euronews has contacted for further comment, said.

"But, of course, they only do this to the people of countries they impoverish on behalf of their technofeudal lords hiding their dough in Luxembourg," he said.

Amazon is, of course, not the only major company to be accused of avoiding taxes, with Google, Facebook, Netflix, Apple and Microsoft being accused, along with the retail giant, of avoiding $100 billion in global tax over the past decade in a report from the Fair Tax Foundation.

In a statement sent to Euronews, an Amazon spokesperson defended the company's filings, asserting that the retail giant: "pays all the taxes required in every country where we operate."

"Corporate tax is based on profits, not revenues, and our profits have remained low given our heavy investments and the fact that retail is a highly competitive, low margin business," they said.

The Amazon spokesperson further asserted that the retail giant has invested billions in Europe over the years, helping create jobs and support small European companies.

“We’ve invested well over €78 billion in Europe since 2010, and much of that investment is in infrastructure that creates many thousands of new jobs, generates significant local tax revenue, and supports small European firms," they said.

This article was updated to clarify that Amazon's main retail arm in Europe did not pay any corporation tax in Luxembourg last year, rather than Europe-wide.