Monday, December 10, 2012

Ethical Consumer's Boycott Amazon campaign

Following excellent actions by the tax protesters UK Uncut on the weekend, Ethical Consumer magazine in the UK has launched a Boycott Amazon campaign, on account of its well documented tax avoidance in the country (and in many others.)

The pitch is simple:
"We all have to pay taxes. They fund our schools and hospitals. But some companies aren't paying their fair share. In 2011 Amazon's sales in the UK were £2.9 billion but they only paid £1.8 million in corporation tax. Consumer power can make Amazon pay a fair rate of tax."
This is quite right. This company is free riding on the benefits of society, and asking others to pay the costs associated with creating those benefits.

Ethical consumer provides some helpful alternatives;
Debenhams - Paid 22% tax on its profits for 2012.
Debenhams online offers everything from fashion to furniture.

John Lewis - Paid 35% tax on its profits for 2012.
John Lewis online offers virtually everything that's available on Amazon with the exception of books.

Lush –   Paid 42% tax on its profits for 2011.
Lush online offers an extensive range of handmade cosmetics.

Marks and Spencer –   Paid 27% tax on its profits for 2012.
Marks and Spencer online offers everything from frocks to food.

Next – Paid 26% tax on its profits for 2012.
Next online offers everything from evening wear to electricals.

Of course we always recommend that you support your local shops before you hit the big High Street chains.
That last sentence is important. Local businesses without international operations will (almost by definition) not be using tax havens to cut their tax bills. They are being killed in markets by multinationals on a factor - tax - that has nothing to do with real productivity, and everything to do with transferring wealth away from other taxpayers elsewhere. (Read more arguments on this here.) Ethical Consumer again, on the alternatives to Amazon:
"Where do I buy my books?

Support your local bookshop if possible. Phone first to order titles.

In a reversal of Amazon’s famously unpopular suggestion to browse books first in a High Street bookshop and then buy them cheaper online, it's quite fun to browse for books first on Amazon and then buy them from a tax-paying local bookstore.

A good option is a workers co-operative and radical bookshop. is another good alternative initiative combining online shopping with supporting local book stores.

Search on Amazon Marketplace and then buy the book you want directly from the seller by searching for it elsewhere online.

Other good options for second hand books are and Oxfam Books."
 More from TJN, and more detail on this important subject, in due course.


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