In September 2021 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 June 2021 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 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".

The company also stated: "We will not allow products in the Amazon Store that are made using forced, indentured, or child labor, including products prohibited by U.S. Customs and Border Protection; by factories deemed ineligible under the Bangladesh Accord or Bangladesh Alliance; or with cotton sourced from Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan."

Nothing could be found on GM cotton.

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.

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 2021, 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 2020 the company and its employees had spent $12.8 million on lobbying and made $12,795,719 in political donations. Of the donations, 84.92% went 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.”

82 out of 118 lobbyists in 2020 had previously held government jobs.

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


Open Secrets generic ref 2021 (5 January 2021)

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, which 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 June 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed Amazon's 2021 DEF14A filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) covering the financial year 2020, which contained details of executive remuneration. This document listed the compensation of five of the company’s executive officers. This showed that the highest compensation awarded to an individual in 2020 was $46,288,671

Ethical Consumer considered payments over £1 million to be excessive. Amazon therefore lost a mark under Anti-Social Finance.


Amazon 2021 Form DEF14a (5 July 2021)

In July 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed Roofoods Group of companies' accounts made up to 31 December 2020 (p73). It stated that the company's seven Executive Directors each received over £1 million in total compensation in 2020. The highest paid received £14.4 million.
Ethical Consumer deemed any annual amount over £1million to be excessive. The company therefore lost a mark under Anti-Social Finance.


Generic Ref 2021 (19 February 2021)

In July 2021, 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 company tree on showed that the company had a holding company - HQ Zappos LLC, in Nevada, considered a tax haven by Ethical Consumer at the time of writing. Holding companies were a type of company considered at high risk of being used for tax avoidance purposes.

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 or a narrative explanation for what each group entity located in a tax haven was for, and why it was not being used for purposes of tax minimisation.

On the Amazon UK website a statement on tax was found which broke down the tax that Amazon paid in the UK, and its profits here, but it did not provide the information above.

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 (5 January 2021)

The Silicon Six and their $100 billion global tax gap, was 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 concluded that the corporation tax paid by the Silicon Six was 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 was 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 company lost half a mark under Tax Conduct.


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 had been deferred for much of the bill, meaning it would only have to pay £1.7m.
It had 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 was only one part of the company’s activities in the UK. Amazon revealed in US filings that its total sales to the UK rose from £9.5bn to more than £11bn in 2017. The tax paid on all these UK sales was not publicly available information because sales made to customers in the UK were booked through the UK branch of a Luxembourg-based company, Amazon EU Sarl, according to the report.
The company therefore lost half a mark under Tax Conduct.


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