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Posts tagged taxes

Remember all that anti-Amazon tax snark? Your turn, Apple
October 1, 2014 | 12:17 pm

PenguinAmazon-haters who used the media/retail giant's European tax policies as a stick to beat it with may soon be looking for a new theme: at least if they want to continue to cast Amazon as the sole villain in the piece. Because the European Commission has issued a letter asserting that the Irish state gave tax-related state aid to Apple to support its operations there, in contravention of European Union law. According to reports in the BBC and elsewhere, Apple is enjoying a 2 percent tax rate on many of its European activities by declaring them through its Irish subsidiary. According...

Google uses transfer pricing to avoid paying European taxes
July 27, 2014 | 9:25 am

One of the most commonly-heard complaints about Amazon, at least in Europe, is that it sells e-books from a division based in Luxembourg so that it can charge a much lower VAT (Value-Added Tax, the European equivalent of sales tax) rate on its e-books than UK law allows. The unspoken implication is that everyone else must surely pay all the taxes they owe like good little corporate boys and girls. But Ars Technica reports that Google uses a practice called “transfer pricing” to assign most of its European revenues to an offshore subsidiary in Bermuda and avoid paying taxes...

Nando’s, Amazon, and tax: Who’s the real chicken?
July 11, 2014 | 11:25 am

In the wake of UK children's writer Allan Ahlberg's refusal of the Amazon-sponsored inaugural Booktrust Lifetime Achievement Award - over Amazon's tax avoidance policies and other issues including the Hachette standoff - The Guardian has been probing into similar tax efficiency schemes, highlighting, of all players, Nando's the Portuguese style chicken chain. According to The Guardian, Nando's not only uses a secretive Channel Islands trust to avoid heavy inheritance tax on the owners of the privately-held group, but also "uses a battery of offshore techniques, including companies in Malta, Guernsey and the Netherlands, to legally reduce its UK corporation tax...

UK Ethical Consumer mag, MPs call to boycott Amazon
November 30, 2013 | 10:48 am

ethical consumerNow it's "Boycott Amazon" in the UK. And "the campaign to make Amazon pay a fair rate of tax," steered by Ethical Consumer magazine, has been joined by a slew of British MPs, according to The Bookseller, including Public Accounts Committee chairman Margaret Hodge (already on record for her public complaints against Amazon), Austin Mitchell,  Natascha Engel, Meg Hillier, Margaret Hodge, John McDonnell, Michael Meacher, Graham Morris and Dennis Skinner. Ethical Consumer justifies its campaign - in appropriately brief, easy-to-understand terms - by claiming that "the UK's number one tax avoider is Amazon." Well, is it? Are they absolutely sure that...

Taxation Issue Resurfaces in UK as Politicians Make Cheap Political Capital
October 30, 2013 | 7:30 pm

taxationThe thorny issue of cross-border taxation of Amazon and similar ebook platforms in the UK has resurfaced - well, not so much resurfaced as been dragged out and paraded by The Bookseller like a suspect in a witch trial. The Bookseller quoted a report in the UK's Daily Telegraph that in fact led on shortfalls on tax exchange deals with Switzerland, although Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, took the opportunity in her grilling of representatives of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to hit at tax legally avoided by Google, Amazon, Starbucks, and similar multinationals. Hodge urged...

European Council may bring changes in EU ebook VAT
October 22, 2013 | 6:40 pm

vatA meeting of the European Union's European Council scheduled to take place this week could bring about a retail mini-revolution for ebooks in Europe, at least if certain writeups in the media are to be believed. As reported in The Bookseller, the meeting may see the different rates of value added tax (VAT) on ebooks charged across the EU harmonized downwards, towards the same rate in each country that prevails for printed books. "Here's hoping that the European Council will come to the right decisions for us," wrote "Finnish author living and writing in London" Helena Halme in her blog, where...

Amazon also catches flak in Germany
July 19, 2013 | 10:14 am

AmazonUK and France are not the only European countries to indulge in a spot of gratuitous Amazon-bashing. Now Germany is seeing the same trend, with Reuters reporting "outraged" complaints by Sven Giegold, German Green Party Euro MP, at Amazon's low German tax bill despite its huge sales there. Figures in the Reuters report show Amazon declaring €10 million of profits and paying only €3 million in income tax in 2012, despite actual German sales of $8.7 billion. This was done by channeling the sales through Luxembourg-registered Amazon Europe Holding Technologies, which as a tax-exempt partnership, does not have to pay income...

Summer heat turned up on Amazon in UK media
July 3, 2013 | 3:22 pm

Amazon The UK activism and media heat on Amazon seems to be reaching a fever pitch as temperatures rise, with British newspapers trumpeting the results of a Booksellers Association survey concurrent with the start of Independent Booksellers Week, which purports to show that some 60 percent fewer British consumers will be likely to buy books online following the furor around Amazon UK's tax accounting practices. According to the Daily Telegraph, BA president Patrick Neale, himself an independent bookseller, apparently believes that just a little more persuasion will drive Britain's book buyers to boycott Amazon. And evidently bitten by the same mad dog, The...

UK book buyer survey makes me scratch my head
July 2, 2013 | 6:38 pm

Here’s a story that leaves me puzzled. The Bookseller reports that a survey of over 2,000 UK book buyers claimed that 70.8% of 16-24-year-olds said that learning about the ways Internet-only booksellers get around paying UK taxes makes them less likely to shop on-line. It also claimed that the vast majority of people were concerned over vanishing bookstores and thought they were nice to have around, and a majority were concerned about showrooming. See the article for the exact stats. The thing is, these statistics don’t match up with what I would expect. I don’t know whether it’s a...

European Commission investigates France, Luxembourg for illegally lowering VAT on e-books
July 5, 2012 | 9:15 pm

Remember how Amazon has based its European operations in Luxembourg due to that country’s lower value-added tax rate on e-books? And France has reduced its own rate? Today the European Commission served notice that it was launching an investigation into whether these countries had broken European Union law by reducing those rates. The first step involves sending the governments of those countries a letter asking them to explain themselves, and if they don’t provide a satisfactory explanation within one month the European Commission could ask them to change their laws, or launch "infringement procedures”. As Philip...

Award-winning political campaign rescues library with ‘book-burning party’
June 16, 2012 | 7:15 pm

bookburningIt can be hard to get enough funding for libraries. Troy, Michigan recently tried three times to get a tax increase passed to give the library sufficient funding to stay open. The vote failed twice, and had only one last shot on the ballot, days before the library would have to close. But as with two previous attempts, it was facing well-organized opposition who had managed to make the issue all about opposition to new taxes with no mention of the library at all. So the library approached ad agency Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide Detroit and asked what they could...

UK Publishers Association lobbies for e-book VAT reduction
April 26, 2012 | 11:18 pm

In December, I mentioned the UK Parliament considering and then declining to lower the UK’s 20% value-added tax (VAT) on e-books. Lowering the VAT is technically against EU law, though that hasn’t stopped countries such as France and Luxembourg from doing it. Publishing Perspectives reports that the UK’s Publishers Association hasn’t given up, and is lobbying the European Commission to change its VAT rules so that audiobooks and e-books can be assigned the same (0%) VAT as printed books. While [Publishers Association CEO Richard Mollet] says that “considering the explosion of e-books across the...