In August 2018 Ethical Consumer's boycott of Amazon, called in 2012, was still ongoing.
The boycott was called because in 2011 Amazon, the world's biggest online retailer, generated sales in the UK of £2.9bn yet paid only £1.8m in corporation tax.
These tax dodging activities weren't illegal but Ethical Consumer agreed with the MP's who attacked their “immoral” accounting practices.

At a time when UK public services were being slashed and household budgets were under increasing strain Ethical Consumer felt it unfair that big companies such as Amazon weren't paying their way.


Boycott list (12 January 2012)

In August 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed Amazon's website and found that it sold several brands of clothings through private labels. Due to the issues in the cotton supply chain clothing companies were expected to have a cotton sourcing policy. No policy was found.

According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category.

The Organic Trade Association website,, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company also lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.

Reference: (13 August 2018)

In May 2018 the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre reported that "Amazon opposes Seattle tax proposal meant to address the state of emergency over homelessness".
It stated, "Amazon halted construction plans on a development site in the northern end of the city and vowed that it would forgo additional space it recently leased if the council approves the tax, which is intended to raise $75 million a year".
The company lost half a mark under Political Activities.


Amazon opposes Seattle tax to tackle homelessness (May 2018)

In July 2019 reported that in the 2018 election cycle had spent $13,621,389 on political donations, to Democrats and Republicans, and $14,400,000 on lobbying.


Open Secrets generic ref 2019 (2 January 2019)

According to the website of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC),, visited in March 2018, Amazon was listed as a director. The NFTC's motto was 'Advancing Global Commerce' and it also claimed to be "the only business association dedicated solely to trade policy, export finance, international tax, and human resource issues on behalf of its members". It also stated the organisation advocated open world markets and fought against protectionist legislation and policies. It also offered rapid and effective response to fast-moving legislative and policy developments by a team with a reputation for tackling tough issues and getting results, and participation in NFTC-led business coalitions on major international trade and tax issues. These were listed as benefits of membership of the organisation.


Board of Directors List (April 2017)

In July 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed Amazon's 2019 10-K filing for the US Securities and Exchange Commission. This showed that the company was incorporated in Delaware, considered a tax haven by Ethical Consumer at the time of writing. The filing exhibit 21.1 also included a list of five significant subsidiaries, all of which were based in Nevada or Delaware, jurisdictions on Ethical Consumer's list of tax havens at the time of writing. Amazon recieved Ethical Consumer's worst ranking for likely use of tax avoidance strategies.


form 10 K (February 2019)

In August 2018 it was reported on Channel 4 News that the pre-tax profits of Amazon UK Services Limited, the UK distribution side of the business, covering activities in more than a dozen giant warehouses across the country, increased from £24m in 2016 to £72m in 2017, but its tax bill fell from £7.4m to £4.6m.
Furthermore, payment has been deferred for much of the bill, meaning it will only have to pay £1.7m.
It has lowered its tax bill by paying employees in the form of shares, which is an expense it can offset against corporation tax. This is completely legal, and long-established government policy.

But Amazon UK Services Limited is only one part of the company’s activities in this country. Amazon revealed in US filings that its total sales to the UK rose from £9.5bn to more than £11bn in 2017. But the tax paid on all these UK sales is not publicly available information because sales made to customers in the UK are booked through the UK branch of a Luxembourg-based company, Amazon EU Sarl.


FactCheck: why does Amazon pay so little tax? – Channel 4 News (3 August 2018)

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) published a report in March 2017: The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth; Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies, 2008 to 2015.

The report documented just how successful many Fortune 500 corporations had been at using loopholes and special breaks over the past eight years, in order to have paid less than the 35% federal income tax on their U.S. profits - with many having paid nothing at all.

ITEP stated: "As lawmakers look to reform the corporate tax code, this report shows that the focus of any overhaul should be on closing loopholes rather than on cutting tax rates."

The report included only corporations which had been consistently profitable every year between 2008 to 2015. By leaving out corporations that had losses in any one year (which means they wouldn’t have paid any tax), the report provides a straightforward picture of average effective tax rates paid by the 258 biggest and most consistently profitable U.S. companies.

The report found that one hundred of the 258 companies (39 percent of them) paid zero or less in federal income taxes in at least one year from 2008 to 2015.

The sectors with the lowest effective corporate tax rates over the eight-year period were Utilities, Gas and Electric (3.1%), Industrial Machinery (11.4%), Telecommunications (11.5%), Oil, Gas, and Pipelines (11.6%), and Internet Services and Retailing (15.6%). Each of these industries paid, as a group, less than half the statutory 35 percent tax rate over this eight-year period.

Whole Foods Market was one of the companies in the report. Over the eight year period covered by the report, the company was found to have made US$4,399.5 million profit, on which it paid US$1,532.5m tax. This worked out at a rate of 34.8%.


The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth; Corporate Tax (March 2017)