back to article AWS tops up the Bezos rocket fund thanks to more money from Brit tax collection agency

The UK's tax collection agency might not have had much luck squeezing money out of Amazon Web Services but the cloud division of Jeff Bezos' empire has managed to convince HMRC to sign off more multimillion-pound contracts. According to documents just published by government, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs handed a £41m two …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "that still doesn't make tax avoidance ethical"

    Obviously not, but unfortunately ethical and legal are two different things.

    CEOs are not there to be ethical - they exist to "maximise shareholder value". As long as that situation is not changed, there is no amount of laws that will force a CEO to things ethically.

    The only thing that can have an impact is public image. That is why is critically important to continue flaying online any company that underpays its workers, does not keep bonus promises, does not provide a safe workplace, or sources components from child labor or slave labor conditions.

    We, the citizens, are the last force to make CEOs comply to what we think is ethical.

    If we don't do it with our voices, the law cannot do anything about it.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: "that still doesn't make tax avoidance ethical"

      CEOs are not there to be ethical - they exist to "maximise shareholder value". As long as that situation is not changed, there is no amount of laws that will force a CEO to things ethically.

      [Citation needed], because UK Law does not actually say that. UK Law says (under section 172 of the Companies act 2006)

      Duty to promote the success of the company

      (1)A director of a company must act in the way he considers, in good faith, would be most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of its members as a whole, and in doing so have regard (amongst other matters) to—

      (a)the likely consequences of any decision in the long term,

      (b)the interests of the company's employees,

      (c)the need to foster the company's business relationships with suppliers, customers and others,

      (d)the impact of the company's operations on the community and the environment,

      (e)the desirability of the company maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct, and

      (f)the need to act fairly as between members of the company.

      (2)Where or to the extent that the purposes of the company consist of or include purposes other than the benefit of its members, subsection (1) has effect as if the reference to promoting the success of the company for the benefit of its members were to achieving those purposes.

      (3)The duty imposed by this section has effect subject to any enactment or rule of law requiring directors, in certain circumstances, to consider or act in the interests of creditors of the company.

      Now, Could you explain where that requires a director to "maximise shareholder value"? I'm not seeing that requirement anywhere.

      It appears to be (at least as so far as the UK is concerned) a complete fabrication with the intention of providing a fig leaf of an excuse to defend behaviour that is indefensible. (you know, "the law makes me do it", despite the law not actually requiring anything of the sort!)

      1. cdegroot

        Re: "that still doesn't make tax avoidance ethical"

        So where in that text does it say "should act ethically even if it comes at a large cost to [members]"? (Where I take it that "members" is UK legalese for "shareholders").

        Also, Amazon is a US company, not a UK one.

        While I don't like this situation either, I do think it's gonna need international cooperation and/or new tax laws (like the "digital taxes" that some countries are introducing) to rectify this, not shaking your finger "bad big company" and hoping for the best. And given that a lot of corporation tax laws have to fit within existing international frameworks, that's gonna take a while.

    2. scrubber
      Holmes

      Re: "that still doesn't make tax avoidance ethical"

      Tax avoidance is the only justifiable action of any taxpayer, corporate or otherwise.

      Tax laws are written to be either intentionally trip up well intentioned people, or with such disregard for an honest citizen that the intent is irrelevant. Given this state of affairs, where the tax authorities can undoubtedly find anyone guilty of breaching one of its rules buried in thousands of pages of dense legalese that literally no-one on earth can comprehend, then the only thing you can do is to follow the letter of the law as best as you can, ethics, justice and fairness be damned.

    3. nijam Silver badge

      Re: "that still doesn't make tax avoidance ethical"

      > Obviously not, but unfortunately ethical and legal are two different things.

      True, and in fact inevitable. If the law were to define "ethical", it would stop being anything to do with ethics (which is after all pretty much an opinion), and become... let's see... oh, yes, the law.

      Enforcing what you think is ethical may simply outrage those with another viewpoint. And vice versa of course.

  2. Lomax
    Facepalm

    It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it

    "In addition, HMRC has awarded a £2m contract to AWS EMEA Sarl UK's Professional Services wing, again for two years. This involves the provision of consultants that will work on speeding up the adoption of AWS products and services."

    So HMRC are paying Amazon to tell them what other Amazon products they should buy.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. s. pam Silver badge

      Re: It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it

      well when you've not collected VAT due from satan and you've just bought their product i guess it's better than paying Crapita.

  3. s. pam Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Don't worry about the billions in tax HMRC hasn't collected

    We'll spend more with the VERY SAME company who's famously not paid full VAT by their much reported in the press tax avoidance scheme.

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