In May 2020 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. The figure should have over £8 million.
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.

The company lost a mark under the Boycott Call category.


Boycott list (12 January 2012)

In May 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Amazon's website for a cotton sourcing policy. The company owned several clothing brands using cotton.

The following statements relating to cotton sourcing were found: “In 2019, Amazon joined the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). The BCI aims to transform cotton production worldwide by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity.”

"Additionally, in 2019 we signed the Responsible Sourcing Network’s public Cotton Pledge to not source cotton from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan until the pervasive use of government-mandated forced labor is stopped".

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. As Amazon had committed not to sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, this was considered to be a positive policy addressing a workers’ rights issue.

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. Although Amazon was seen to have made a positive step by joining the Better Cotton Initiative, no statement was found indicating that the company had committed to sourcing 100% of its cotton under that initiative.
Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company 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 Technologies category.

Reference: (2020)

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 June 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed an article in the New York Times titled "following the money that undermines climate science" and dated 10th July 2019, that stated that Verizon, Google and Amazon had all been found to be sponsoring a gala organised by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank well known for spreading climate denial misinformation. As a result Amazon lost a whole mark in the Political Activities column.


Following the Money That Undermines Climate Science (10 July 2019)

In May 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the entry for Amazon on the website, which was published in the USA by the Centre for Responsive Politics. This stated that in the 2018 election cycle the company had spent $27.4 million on lobbying and made $13,633,603 in political donations. Of this, $2,317,566 was donated to Republican candidates and $1,042,235 to Democrats. NOTE: OpenSecrets states: “The organization itself did not donate, rather the money came from the organization's PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate family members. Organizations themselves cannot contribute to candidates and party committees. Totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.”
79 out of 103 lobbyists in 2018 were said to have previously held government jobs.

As a result, the company lost a full mark under the Political Activities category.


Open Secrets generic ref 2020 (2020)

In May 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Amazon's 2020 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, despite having its main headquarters in a different state (Washington).

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.

An internet search using the search terms “Amazon tax policy statement country” found no country-by-country financial information or reporting (CBCR), nor clear public tax statement confirming that it was this company’s policy not to engage in tax avoidance activity or to use tax havens for tax avoidance purposes AND the company provides a narrative explanation for what each group entity located in a tax haven is for, and why it is not being used for purposes of tax minimisation.

Given that Amazon was incorporated in a jurisdiction on Ethical Consumer's tax haven list, had subsidiaries in jurisdictions on this list, and no country-by-country financial information, nor adequate policy statement and narrative explanation was found, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies and lost a full mark in the Anti-Social Finance category.


Generic Hoovers ref (2020)

The Silicon Six and their $100 billion global tax gap, is a report published in December 2019 by the Fair Tax Mark which examined the tax conduct of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Microsoft over the last decade, 2010-2019.
It concludes that the corporation tax paid by the Silicon Six is much lower than is commonly understood. Over the decade:
* the gap between the expected headline rates of tax and the cash taxes actually paid was $155.3bn
* the gap between the current tax provisions (the amount the companies were expected to pay) and the taxes actually paid was $100.2bn
The report suggests that the bulk of the shortfall almost certainly arose outside the United States. Profits continue to be shifted to tax havens, especially Bermuda, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Out of the six companies, Amazon was found to be the worst culprit.
Amazon has paid just $3.4bn in income taxes this decade, whilst Apple has paid $93.8bn and Microsoft has paid $46.9bn. This is a staggering variance, especially as Amazon’s revenue over this period exceeded that of Microsoft’s by almost $80bn.
Fair Tax Mark said this means Amazon’s effective tax rate was just 12.7% over the decade when the headline tax rate in the US has been 35% for seven of the eight years under examination.
The company is growing its market domination across the globe on the back of revenues that are largely untaxed, and can unfairly undercut local businesses that take a more responsible approach.
The situation is unlikely to reverse soon given the $9.3bn of operating loss carry forwards available to offset against future profits and taxes.


The Silicon Six and their $100 billion global tax gap (December 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)