Bookshop owners hand in Amazon tax petition

Bookshop couple Frances and Keith Smith outside No 10 Downing Street Bookshop owners Frances and Keith Smith set up shop in 2004

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A bookshop-owning couple have handed in a petition to Downing Street calling on internet retailer Amazon to pay more corporation tax.

Frances Smith, 66, and her husband Keith, 63, who have shops in Warwick and Kenilworth, launched the petition, signed by 150,000 people, in December.

They believe Amazon is putting unfair pressure on firms like theirs.

Supporters of the campaign include MP Margaret Hodge and authors Charlie Higson and Stephen Fry.

'Complex operation'

Mrs Smith said: "We set up the petition because we feel that it's very unfair that large companies should avoid paying corporation tax and we are worried about the future of the high street.

"Companies like our own and people on the high street are being squeezed by everything and this is an extra unfair disadvantage."

In a statement, Amazon 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."

Review tax approach

Last year Amazon was accused of "immorally" minimising UK tax bills, along with Starbucks and Google, 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.

Starbucks took the decision to review its "tax approach" and pledged to pay a lump sum to HM Revenue and Customs over the next two years in light of the public pressure that followed.

Mr and Mrs Smith, who set up their first shop in 2004, are hoping their petition will persuade Amazon do the same.

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