The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) claims to have just obtained a trove of leaked documents from the tiny and highly tax-efficient Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, naming Amazon among many name-brand international companies that sought extensive tax concessions by incorporating in Luxembourg. Amazon is hardly the only one, though. The “nearly 28,000 pages of confidential documents” cited by the ICIJ, reviewed by “a team of more than 80 journalists from 26 countries,” name companies including Accenture, AIG, Blackstone, Burberry, Deutsche Bank, FedEx, Heinz, Ikea, JP Morgan Chase, Procter & Gamble, and many more, most of them negotiated by audit giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Specifically, ICIJ is releasing “a large cache of Luxembourg tax rulings – 548 comfort letters issued from 2002 to 2010.” As ICIJ states, The European Union and Luxembourg have been fighting for months over Luxembourg’s reluctance to turn over information about its tax rulings to the EU, which is investigating whether the country’s tax deals with Amazon and Fiat Finance violate European law … It’s unclear whether any of these documents are among those still being sought by EU investigators, but they are the kinds of documents that go to the heart of the EU’s investigation into Luxembourg’s tax rulings.”
So far at least, there’s no clear sign from ICIJ whether Amazon itself was included in this particular document leak – or in the broader series of arrangements negotiated by PwC. However, ICIJ makes it obvious that Amazon is not only one of the bell-wethers that brought this whole issue into the open, but is also more likely to lose its own favorable tax arrangements if the EU succeeds in its investigations. PwC, meanwhile, claims that the documents were stolen, and in any case are both outdated and misinterpreted.
Whether or not Amazon is included in the leak, it obviously is already being looped into the story, and is going to have more trouble than ever evading scrutiny for its tax arrangements.