Amazon pays £648m in UK taxes as revenues jump

Packages are seen inside Amazon 's JFK8 distribution center in Staten Island, New York, U.S. November 25, 2020.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Amazon said its direct tax bill increased by almost a third from £492m in 2020. Photo: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Amazon (AMZN) has handed £648m directly to the taxman last year as revenue in the UK surged past £23bn, boosted by the online shopping boom caused by the pandemic.

The company said its direct tax bill increased by almost a third from £492m in 2020.

The bulk of the tax increase was driven by the increase in the size of its UK workforce, which swelled to cope with rising demand.

Amazon grew to around 70,000 workers by the end of 2021 and its continued recruitment spree is set to take the firm to almost 75,000 staff by the end of this year.

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Taxes were also increased by the expansion of the company’s real estate footprint, with the group opening new warehouses and growing its grocery store operation.

A surge in demand for online retail, as high street rivals were shut during the first months of the year, resulted in higher sales. Revenues increased by 12.4% to £23.19bn for 2021.

“We are proud of the significant economic contribution we are making to the UK economy," Amazon said in a statement.

“We know that the UK remains full of opportunity and we continue to be excited by the potential to make investments across the country and have a positive impact in communities.”

The news comes as on Tuesday Amazon filed a lawsuit against the administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups that allegedly acted as fake review brokers.

Read more: UK competition watchdog opens investigation into Amazon

The lawsuit filed in Seattle accuses the group admins of soliciting reviews for items in exchange for money or free products.

One of the groups, “Amazon Product Review,” had over 43,000 members, and allegedly offered refunds or other payment to buyers willing to leave fake reviews on products like cameras or laptops.

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