Amazon was accused last night of profiteering from a multi-billion-pound VAT fraud that is pushing British businesses to the wall.
MPs said the online retailer was ‘turning a blind eye’ to organised criminals from China and elsewhere who sell their goods cheaply on internet auction sites – but don’t register to pay VAT.
The scam takes up to £1.5billion a year from Treasury coffers and lets the sellers undercut law-abiding British traders, forcing them to fold or lay staff off.
Amazon has been accused last night of profiteering from a multi-billion-pound VAT fraud that is pushing British businesses to the wall
Yesterday, MPs on the Commons public accounts committee accused internet marketplaces Amazon and eBay of not doing enough to root out foreign firms that fail to pay tax.
They also said that because online retailers take a commission from the total that tax-evading traders make, they receive more money from them than if the 20 per cent VAT was paid – letting them ‘profiteer’ from the fraud.
The MPs criticised Amazon for letting foreign traders store goods in its warehouses even if they do not have a valid VAT number.
Labour MP Caroline Flint said: ‘The by-product of both Amazon and eBay and other online marketplaces is that you are profiting from the evading of tax by these overseas sellers.
‘We are talking about billions of pounds of VAT being lost to HMRC and therefore being lost to the UK, and the putting out of business legitimate firms that are playing by the rules.’
Labour's Caroline Flint was among the MPs criticised Amazon for letting foreign traders store goods in its warehouses even if they do not have a valid VAT number
Registering for VAT and paying it is the responsibility of the seller – not Amazon, which insists it is just providing a marketplace.