SNP urged to ‘come clean’ on Amazon tax

Allan Lyall, Amazon Vice President of European Operations with Alex Salmond
Allan Lyall, Amazon Vice President of European Operations with Alex Salmond
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ALEX Salmond has come under mounting pressure to come clean about whether the SNP would force online sales giant Amazon to pay corporation tax in an independent Scotland.

Calls for the First Minister to clarify his position follow revelations that the multinational firm avoids paying the tax in the UK, despite receiving more than £10 million in Scottish Government handouts.

Yesterday, Mr Salmond faced demands from opposition politicians to say whether the SNP would close the legal loophole that has allowed the US-based firm to pay corporation tax in Luxembourg, instead of the UK.

Labour MSP John Park, whose Mid-Scotland and Fife constituency includes an Amazon distribution centre in Dunfermline, called on the First Minister to say whether he would impose the tax on Amazon if the SNP’s flagship demand of corporation tax responsibilities were devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Park said: “The SNP say that we’re going to be independent soon after 2016, so would Amazon start paying the tax then. The SNP can’t on the one hand say that they want Scandinavian public services and then back a regressive corporation tax system that allows companies like Amazon to get away without paying anything.

“We now need to know what discussions Alex Salmond has had with Amazon about what its tax status would be in an independent Scotland or if corporation tax powers were to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.”

Mr Park also said he was “concerned” about what he claimed was a large number of temporary and “insecure” posts in Amazon’s Scottish operation.

A spokesman for the First Minister yesterday insisted that the SNP Government was happy to have Amazon based in Edinburgh and Dunfermline, which it said had led to the creation of 2,000 full-time jobs alongside the temporary posts.

He said: “When their recruitment is complete, Amazon will have up to 5,000 jobs in Scotland at peak periods – surely no opposition politician in Scotland is seriously suggesting we should not have that employment.”

The spokesman went onto say that the First Minister would “assess the position” of whether to force Amazon to pay corporation tax” if the UK government eventually devolved the power to Scotland, as the SNP continued to refuse to say whether it would close the loophole.

But Patrick Harvie, leader of the pro-independence Scottish Greens, said: “The SNP has got to come clean on what it would do with these powers [and] spell out what would happen about corporation tax with firms like Amazon.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “It would be astonishing if the First Minister didn’t insist they pay their fair share. We need answers about the First Minister’s discussions.”