In August 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the entry for Ebay on the Opensecrets.org website, which was published in the USA by the Centre for Responsive Politics. This stated that in 2020 the company had spent $1,170,000 on lobbying and was linked to $575,718 in political contributions. Of this, $139,070 was donated to Republican candidates and £416,980 to Democrats. NOTE: OpenSecrets states: “Organizations themselves cannot contribute to candidates and party committees. Figures on this page include contributions and spending by affiliates. ”

In 2020, 23 out of 27 Ebay Inc lobbyists were said to have previously held government jobs. As a result, the company lost a full mark under the Political Activities category.

Reference:

Open Secrets generic ref 2021 (5 January 2021)

According to the organisation's website www.uscsi.org, viewed by Ethical Consumer in January 2021, Ebay was a member of the Coalition of Services Industries. This was regarded by Ethical Consumer as an international corporate lobby group which exerted undue corporate influence on policy-makers in favour of market solutions that were potentially detrimental to the environment and human rights.

According to the website of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), www.nftc.org, visited in January 2021, Ebay 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. The company therefore lost half a mark under Political Activities.

In February 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed the US Council for International Business Annual Report 2019-20. The report listed Ebay as a member. The USCIB described itself as "founded in 1945 to promote an open world trading system, now among the premier pro-trade, pro-market liberalization organizations ...provides unparalleled access to international policy makers and regulatory authorities." Ethical Consumer noted that free trade lobby groups had been criticised by campaigners for lobbying for business interests at the expense of the environment, human rights and animal welfare. The company therefore lost half a mark under Political Activities.

Reference:

Ethical Consumer Lobby Group member list (February 2021)

In August 2021, Ethical Consumer accessed SEC to view Ebay Inc’s DEF14a filing which stated that seven of the company’s executives received more than £1 million in compensation in 2020. After conversion from US dollars into GBP, the highest paid received £30,871,000. Ethical Consumer considered an individual compensation over £1m to be excessive. The company therefore lost a mark under Anti-Social Finance.

Reference:

SEC DEF14a filing Ebay Inc 2020 (12 August 2021)

In June 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the Hoovers database for Ebay (UK)’s corporate family tree and found that the ultimate parent company of Ebay (UK) was eBay Inc. and had 8 subsidiaries in jurisdictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens at the time of writing. Two of these, ‘eBay Korea Holding GmbH’ and ‘eBay Classifieds Holding B.V.’, were holding companies, which was a high risk company type for likely use of tax avoidance strategies.

An internet search using the search terms “eBay tax policy statement country” found no country-by-country financial information or reporting (CBCR) but a public tax statement was found which confirmed that “We do not use secrecy jurisdictions or “tax-havens”, as defined by the OECD, for tax avoidance or savings”. However, the company did not provide a narrative explanation for what each group entity located in a tax haven was for, and how it was not being used for purposes of tax minimisation.
Given that Ebay had two or more high risk subsidiaries in jurisdictions on Ethical Consumer's tax haven list and no country-by-country financial information, nor adequate policy statement and narrative explanation, the company received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies and lost a full mark under Tax Conduct.

Reference:

Generic Hoovers ref (5 January 2021)

According to the Guardian, in March 2016, eBay were to be held liable, in some cases, for VAT fraud committed by overseas sellers using their websites – and costing Britain hundreds of millions of pounds a year in lost tax receipts.

The chancellor of the UK was giving tax inspectors new powers to warn high-risk overseas sellers active in the UK through eBay and other online market places. If, after those warnings, sellers do not correctly collect VAT within 30 days, eBay and Amazon could be held liable for the missing tax.

The Treasury estimated that this measure would recoup £875m in lost VAT receipts over the next four years – though it is not expected to halt tax fraud altogether. The total cost to the taxpayer of this abuse was officially estimated at £1bn to £1.5bn a year

Reference:

amazon-ebay-liable-vat-sellers-budget-2016 (31 March 2016)