John Lewis managing director Andy Street has urged the government to examine the tax advantages enjoyed by multinational firms such as Amazon in order to create a level playing field for businesses.
Street said international companies operating in the UK but based in low-tax countries posed a threat to the long-term future of British firms and said the Government must “address the Amazon problem”.
He told the Jeff Randall Live programme on Sky News: “You have got less money to invest if you are giving 27% of your profits to the Exchequer than if you are domiciled in a tax haven. So they will out-invest and ultimately out-trade us and that means there will not be the tax base in the UK. So I do think it is an issue that needs to be examined.”
He said that the Treasury “should look at exactly what is happening”, when asked about competition from online rival Amazon, which bills its European customers from a Luxembourg-based subsidiary.
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee accused Amazon of being “totally evasive” about the turnover and profitability of its UK business in a hearing on Monday.
Amazon director of public policy Andrew Cecil said he “could not disclose” how much of the €9.1bn sales generated by its pan-European business came from its UK operation.