From The Guardian:
The UK’s bookshops pay 11 times what Amazon does in corporation tax, according to a report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
The Bookselling Britain report was unveiled at the Booksellers Association’s annual conference in Birmingham on Tuesday, revealing that bookshops contribute an estimated £540m to the UK economy, and pay an estimated £131m in tax, including £12m in corporation tax. This equates to 91p per £100 of turnover, the report said, which is 11 times the 8p rate that Amazon pays, according to the CEBR. Amazon’s most recent accounts show that Amazon UK Services saw turnover rise to almost £1.5bn in 2016, while corporation tax payments dropped from £15.8m to £7.4m year on year.
The discrepancy was condemned by the Booksellers Association’s Giles Clifton, head of corporate affairs. “The BA has already highlighted the unequal treatment meted out by the business-rates system to British booksellers, the staggering 17 times differential between what the Waterstones on Bedford High Street pays in comparison with the Amazon business unit a short distance away,” said Clifton.
. . . .
Godfray added: “Bookshops are currently closing at a rate of 3% per year, and 275 towns across the UK can expect to lose their bookshop completely due to changes to business rates if nothing is done. We hope that CEBR’s report encourages our government to act to protect the nation’s bookshops, and enable them to flourish.”
Figures from the BA show that there are currently 867 independent booksellers in the UK, almost half the number that existed 11 years ago.
Link to the rest at The Guardian
Amazon is not required to pay more taxes than the law of the land requires them to pay. If the company is violating UK tax laws, by all means, the country should take action to collect the underpayment.
If, as PG suspects, Amazon pays exactly what it owes under UK and EU laws, it’s not doing anything wrong. Wittingly or unwittingly, Parliament has chosen to tax physical bookstores at a higher rate than it taxes Amazon.
Amazon is not sitting on an inexhaustible pile of money. It obtains money by selling goods and services to UK (and US, French, etc.) citizens. If taxes increase on Amazon, they’ll be paid by individuals who purchase from Amazon. A tax increase on Amazon amounts to diverting more money from individuals, small businesses, etc., into government coffers.
As far as books are concerned, who’s doing a better job of providing British citizens with good reading material, Amazon, which charges much less for a book, or the local bookstore, which charges much more?
If a reader wants to pay more for the ambiance, conversation, etc., that accompanies a bookstore purchase, that is a perfectly reasonable choice. If a reader would prefer to pay less and forgo extra services beyond those necessary to acquire the book itself, what’s wrong with Amazon providing the book for less?
Additionally, a bookstore imposes all the additional costs on the city and its taxpayers of any other retail establishment of comparable size – police, fire, street cleaning, garbage pickup, etc. The sale and delivery of an Amazon ebook to a reader in that city imposes no additional costs to the public than would exist if the ebook had not been sold and delivered.