Amazon moved its profits from a group that is subject to tax in Luxembourg to one that wasn't, resulting in a substantially lower tax bill. The shell company had no offices or staff, but was used solely for evading tax. The antitrust regulator says this let Amazon avoid taxation on three quarters of the profits it made from all Amazon sales in the EU.
Amazon sent Engadget this statement:
"We believe that Amazon did not receive any special treatment from Luxembourg and that we paid tax in full accordance with both Luxembourg and international tax law. We will study the Commission's ruling and consider our legal options, including an appeal. Our 50,000 employees across Europe remain heads-down focused on serving our customers and the hundreds of thousands of small businesses who work with us."
There are no EU fines here. The rules outline that the country needs to recover the sum of benefits to "remove the distortion of competition created by the aid". The Commission has worked out the difference between what the company paid in taxes and what it should have without Luxembourg's tax ruling -- around €250 million, plus interest. The onus is now on the tax authorities of Luxembourg to determine the precise amount of unpaid tax. Vestager suggests that Amazon will have to repay these benefits to Luxembourg.
The European Commission's findings follow its recent investigation into Google's shopping listings -- and the resulting record fine. There were also more developments today in its tax dealings with Apple and Ireland.