Coventry & Warwickshire

Amazon tax petition leads to Commons debate

Bookshop couple Frances and Keith Smith outside No 10 Downing Street
Image caption Bookshop owners Frances and Keith Smith handed in a petition in April

A bookshop-owning couple's campaign for internet retailer Amazon to pay more corporation tax will be discussed in the House of Commons later.

Frances and Keith Smith handed a petition in to Downing Street in April, which was signed by 170,000 people.

The pair, who have shops in Kenilworth and Warwick, fear for the future of high streets.

Their MP Chris White will lead the debate on multinational companies and UK corporation tax.

Mrs Smith, who set up her first shop in 2004, said she hoped the debate would spark changes within HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

"It's the future of the high street we're concerned about," she said.

"It's not just bookshops and it's not just Amazon.

"I want the HMRC to be bolstered so it's up to these companies to prove that they don't have to pay tax."

'Phenomenal sales'

Mr White, who was with the couple when they handed in their petition earlier in the year, said he was concerned about "fairness".

The Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington, said: "Whether or not Amazon is operating within the law, it certainly does not appear to be operating within the spirit of the law.

"I think things could and should be different.

"I think Amazon has a responsibility to pay their tax where they make these phenomenal sales and I don't thing there's anything wrong with pressing this point home."

Last year, Amazon was accused of "immorally" minimising UK tax bills, along with other companies, in a report by the Public Accounts Committee.

While Amazon's UK website reported a turnover of £207m for 2011, its tax expense was £1.8m, the report said.

In a statement, the firm said: "Amazon pays all applicable taxes in every jurisdiction that it operates within.

"Amazon EU serves tens of millions of customers and sellers throughout Europe from multiple consumer websites in a number of languages dispatching products to all 27 countries in the EU.

"We have a single European headquarters in Luxembourg with hundreds of employees to manage this complex operation."

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