Scotsman publishes attack on Salmond over HMRC Amazon tax blunder

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
The Scotsman newspaper has published a bizarre attack on First Minister Alex Salmond after Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) failed to obtain corporation tax from global firm Amazon.
 
In an article in today’s edition entitled “Alex Salmond and Amazon have ‘kicked Scots in teeth’ over £10m handout” the newspaper contains attacks on Mr Salmond over £10 million funding the Scottish Government awarded the firm last year in order to secure thousands of jobs for Scotland.

The article follows revelations that Westminster controlled HMRC failed to close a loophole that allowed multinational companies to avoid corporation tax by registering their headquarters for online orders outwith the UK.

Amazon, which is the UK’s most popular online retailer, has its HQ in Luxembourg.  The tiny state has a population of less than one million but is a well-known financial hub and its citizens enjoy the highest standard of living in the European Union.

This week it emerged that the firm, which generated sales of up to £10 billion over the last three years, had paid little or no corporation tax to the UK.

Amazon has large distribution centres in Swindon and Gourock and recently opened a fulfilment centre in Dunfermline and a call centre in Edinburgh, with a potential 3000 new posts.

However despite the Scottish Government having no control over Corporation Tax and with a possible risk to jobs, Scottish Labour has called on funding to be withheld.

According to the Scotsman article, Scottish Labour’s finance spokesman, Ken Macintosh has called on Mr Salmond to look at withholding any future financial backing from Amazon.

The newspaper also quotes Lib Dem supporter Hugh Andrew, managing director of the publisher Birlinn Ltd, as saying:

“Scottish businesses have been given a kick in the teeth by a government that claims to represents Scotland.  The Scottish Government seems to want to give more than £10m to Amazon, that doesn’t even pay taxes here, rather than support indigenous Scottish firms.

“It’s using public money to grab headlines, but with no strategic thinking about what economic benefit there will be.”

According to SKY News, HMRC has said it has no plans to change the way multinational companies are taxed.

A spokesman for Amazon said: “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.”

The Scottish Government has no control over corporation tax but is currently fighting to have the power devolved to Scotland.

A spokesman for the SNP Government said: “This is a matter between HMRC and the company.”

Amazon officially opened its new one million square foot centre in Dunfermline in November last year.  The new fulfilment centre, the largest in the UK at approximately the size of 14 football pitches, created an estimated 2250 new jobs.

900 new jobs were created at Amazon’s new customer service centre in Edinburgh which handles both internet and telephone customer queries for Amazon.co.uk, including technical support for Amazon Kindle and MP3.

Both developments were in addition to 200 new posts at Amazon’s Gourock fulfilment centre.