THE Church Commissioners have defended their holding a multi-million-pound stake in Amazon Inc, after the Archbishop of Canterbury accused the company of “paying almost nothing in tax”.
The Commissioners’ annual report for 2017 indicates that the company is among their 20 most valuable equity holdings.
On Thursday, a spokesman confirmed that, “As a global investor with a diverse portfolio, Amazon is listed as one of our top 20 holdings globally.
“The Church Commissioners have previously been on the record that we consider aggressive tax-avoidance or abusive tax-arrangements to be both a business risk and an ethical issue. As with other issues, we take the view that it is most effective to be in the room with these companies seeking change as a shareholder.
“We continue to work with other shareholders to tackle this issue via engagement with companies and their managers.”
In comments to the TUC on Wednesday, the Archbishop said: “When vast companies like Amazon and other online traders — the new industries — can get away with paying almost nothing in tax, there is something wrong with the tax system.
“They don’t pay a real living wage; so the tax payer must support their workers with benefits. And, having leeched off the tax payer once, they don’t pay for our defence, for security, for stability, for justice, for health, for equality, for education. Then they complain of an under-trained workforce, from the education they have not paid for, and pay almost nothing for apprenticeships. Those are only a fraction of the costs of aggressive tax management.”
This week Amazon defended its business practices.
A statement said: “We pay all taxes required in the UK and every country where we operate.
“Amazon has created more than 25,000 good jobs with good pay and benefits across Britain and we are proud of the work they do on behalf of customers every day.
“All permanent Amazon fulfilment centre employees are given stock grants, which over the last five years were equal to £1,000 or more per year, per person. Employees are offered a comprehensive benefits package.”
This year, the company became the world’s second most valuable company, surpassing the $1 trillion mark this month. The CEO, Jeff Bezos, is the richest person in the world, according to Forbes.
Read Andrew Brown’s column on press coverage of the story