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Boris Johnson: Amazon Boss Bezos Won’t Pay Taxes Out Of Kindness

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In respond to claims that Amazon did not pay enough tax in the UK, Jeff Bezos tells Boris Johnson that governments must decide taxation frameworks. It’s up to the government to make sure correct sums are levied from business, ecommerce tycoon tells PM.

The prime minister confronted the world’s richest man over Amazon’s tax bill when the pair met on the margins of the United Nations general assembly in New York on Monday.

Amazon boss Jeff Bezos is not going to pay his taxes “as an act of kindness” and it is up to governments to make sure that big business operators like him pay what is due, Boris Johnson has said.

But he said that Bezos – whose personal fortune is estimated at over £130bn – made clear that he believed the onus was on governments to ensure that they have an effective tax system, rather than for businesses voluntarily to pay more than is required by the law. “He’s a capitalist, and he made the very important point that this is a job for governments,” Mr Johnson told Channel 5 News. “And tax isn’t something that he’s going to pay as an ex-gratia act of kindness. It’s up to governments to come up with the right framework.”

Asked if Mr Johnson got a sense that Mr Bezos accepted, he was not paying enough tax in the UK, the prime minister said: “This is a guy who’s making… he has to operate within the commercial framework, within the laws as he finds; that’s what he does.

“We’re trying to make sure we change so as to be fair to the taxpayer, fair to other businesses in the high street and elsewhere.” Amazon has sparked fury over many years for its minimal tax payments in the UK despite making billions in sales. The company paid £492m in direct taxation in 2020 as its sales rose 50 per cent to £20.63bn.

The levy, fiercely resisted by tech giants, is intended to redress the balance with bricks-and-mortar businesses, which have seen profits savaged as consumers flood away from the high street to virtual shopping.

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