Amazon review of the year
The last year has been an important one in the campaign to get Amazon to pay a fair rate of tax
We've seen actions against them intensify around the world and an important announcement from Amazon on the way they will account for their profits in the future.
A strike in 2014 at the Amazon warehouse in Bavaria. Photo credit: Hubert Thiermeyer/ver.di
Most importantly, in May 2015, Amazon announced that they will begin to pay a fairer rate of tax here in the UK.
In a statement the company said it had started to book retail sales through its UK branch from May 1st 2015, ending the practice which saw them route sales directly through a Luxembourg subsidiary.
This was a huge breakthrough in the fight for tax justice and a huge u-turn for a company that said just a year ago that it would be impossible to route sales to UK customers through a British company paying tax to HMRC.
Still more to be done
However, without greater transparency in their accounting methods it's not clear if this is really happening.
If Amazon wants to persuade people that it is not doing anything dodgy, there is a solution. This is to institute proper country-by-country reporting, as advocated by the Fair Tax Mark, the OECD and others. Then we will all be able to get a clear picture of the state of their tax affairs.
In the meantime, we have to assume that Amazon is still shirking its tax responsibilities and therefore, our boycott against them continues.
More from 2015
December: the HMRC announced it was investigating whether Amazon (and eBay) can be made to pay for outstanding VAT bills owed by overseas traders using the online platforms.
A few days earlier the company was accused of selling illegal weapons by the Guardian who ordered a number of dangerous weapons from their site.
This news came after renewed worker unrest around the world. In Germany a strike was called after unions claimed that Amazon employees suffered from excessive pressure, rigid workplace controls, high sickness rates and arbitrary decisions, such as a cut in annual holidays at the Leipzig warehouse to 28 days from a previous 29 days.
November: our article imploring people to boycott the Amazon-invented 'Black Friday' went viral with tens of thousands sharing our tweet memes and facebook posts.
We also launched our guide to perfume shops as part of our 'Amazon Alternatives' series.
September: workers in Seattle began to agitate for change, starting a clandestine group calling for an alternative Amazon manifesto.
This action came hot off the heals of a report by the New York Times which exposed the harsh working conditions endured by management and office workers at Amazon. The exposé described Amazon as, “conducting a little-known experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers, redrawing the boundaries of what is acceptable.”
Earlier in 2015: we released our twitter tax campaigning tool. This tool lists the companies that score worst on our tax rankings and invites consumers to tweet them.
A word on the Fair Tax Mark
As you know we also help run the Fair Tax Mark, which offers accreditation to companies that are paying a fair rate of tax. The organisation is going from strength to strength and has now accredited a number of large companies including the Co-op Group and Lush Cosmetics.
Find out more about the Amazon campaign and view our alternatives series to see where to buy once you've decided to boycott Amazon.