As chair of the House of Commons public accounts committee Margaret Hodge MP has been the star interrogator of companies that aggressively avoid paying tax.
She is one of 8 MPs who are supporting our Amazon boycott call.
In an exclusive interview with Ethical Consumer, Margaret Hodge explains why she is supporting our campaign and why the issue of tax matters so much to her.
Why are you boycotting Amazon?
Amazon is one of the global companies that aggressively avoids paying tax on the profits that they earn from the business they undertake in the UK.
Not only is this morally wrong but it disadvantages every business from the local community-based bookshop to bigger, British-based companies like John Lewis and therefore endangers British businesses and British jobs.
Why would you urge people to join the Amazon Boycott this Christmas?
I haven't used Amazon for a year and I have found plenty of alternatives for buying goods online.
It's hugely important that we all take a stand and damage the reputation and business of companies that deliberately avoid paying their fare share of tax to the common purse for the common good.
I also think that it's hugely important that this is seen as not being anti-business, it's pro-fairness.
It's also not anti-competition it's making sure that everybody can compete fairly which right now British-based businesses that provide British jobs cannot.
What's your response to those people who say that boycotting huge companies like Amazon won't make any difference?
You have to take a stand. If there are enough of us who do it then we will damage their business. Their market share matters and their reputation matters. If we damage their market share we damage their business.
Why is the issue of tax so important to you?
Paying tax is part of the social compact. What makes us a society is that you agree to give according to your means or your profit.
When times are hard and people are struggling, for big corporations to feel that they can choose whether or not to pay their fair share of tax is just wrong. Companies should act more responsibly.
How did we get ourselves into this mess where companies like Amazon aren't paying their fair share of tax?
Partly because as business has become more global we haven't kept up and updated tax regulations. And partly because successive governments – including my own – believed that the way to attract business and jobs was to join the race to the bottom on tax. In other words we tried to out-compete other countries by offering lower rates of tax.
I think that they're wrong on that because companies need our market here in the UK.
We're far too timid and get scared off far too quickly with threats from businesses that they'll take their business elsewhere if the tax rules are changed.
What should we be doing about tax avoidance?
There are many things we can do: we need to toughen up HMRC; toughen up and simplify our own tax rules and working internationally to bring tax rules up to date.
We also need to use the power of public procurement to ensure that we don't reward with public contracts companies who deliberately avoid paying tax.
Join the campaign
Join Margaret Hodge MP and thousands of others, sign up to our Boycott Amazon campaign. Email Amazon and let them know you are boycotting them.
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