Business rates shake-up sees Amazon handed tax boost

Published on: 4th July 2018

The US firm is among internet giants which benefitted from the controversial shake-up of business rates last year.

A reported by The Mirror, research claims Amazon’s tax bill on 11 of its “fulfilment centres” rose by less than £80,000 in total this year, barely half of the £150,000 hike that just one average town centre department store saw its business rates go up by this year.

Meanwhile, there have been hundreds of store closures and, in the first six months of this year, 50,000 staff have been made redundant or seen their role put under threat, with most working for high street chains.

According to the analysis, by industry expert Altus, Amazon’s tax bill on the 11 properties – the backbone of its business – rose by only 0.7% in April. Yet rates on a typical department store went up by more than 26% – or 38 times faster. Many other town centre stores also saw big increases of more than 10%.

The disparity was caused by the way rents on different buildings were used to calculate a revaluation of 1.9m business properties in 2017. It disadvantaged town-centre stores by using, in many cases, outdated information and expensive leases taken out in healthier times. Even when stores should have seen a big fall in their rates bill, the drop was capped.

The study claims Amazon’s rates bill on the 11 sites was around £11m, while Tesco paid £700m last year in business rates, and Sainsbury’s paid £550m.

And while Amazon’s corporation tax bill halved to £7.4m in 2016, Tesco paid £143m and Sainsbury’s £72m.

Amazon has branded the findings “misleading and inaccurate”.

It said: “Amazon pays tens of millions of pounds more in business rates in England and Wales than suggested by the research, and our business rates bill has increased significantly in 2018, including an overall increase at the 11 sites mentioned.”


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