Lowest VAT in EU is in Luxemburg

How one word change lets Amazon pays less tax on its UK activities

“It would have taken the most eagle-eyed reader to spot the introduction of a single, but hugely significant, word into Amazon.co.uk Limited’s annual accounts in 2006. For the first time, the word “fulfilment” was introduced into the description of the company’s activities. What would not have been apparent was that this single word marked a new role for Britain under the new ownership in Luxembourg.

In a highly complex transaction, hidden from readers of the statutory accounts, Amazon.co.uk was passed in February 2006 by Amazon.com International Sales Inc to Amazon Europe Holding Technologies SCS, which owned it for a day before selling it to Amazon EU Sarl for €62m (£52m). Amazon.com Inc, the US master company, had already withdrawn its interest in the UK operation when it transferred its holding in December 2005.

The practical effect of this change of ownership, notified to shareholders in the 2007 accounts, was to reduce the UK business to little more than a delivery service. From 2006, sales made in Britain were billed from Luxembourg and any profits from those sales were taxed not in Britain but in Luxembourg. To emphasise the impact of this, the accounts for Amazon EU Sarl show it employed 134 people in 2010 and generated turnover of € 7.5bn. Amazon.co.uk, employing 2,265 people, turned over only £147m in the same year.”