Make Amazon pay UK Corporation Tax?

I have just received an invitation to sign an online petition demanding that Amazon pay UK Corporation Tax. 

I have every sympathy with bookshops trying to compete against Amazon and I would dearly like to see the survival (and, indeed, revival) of independent booksellers in the UK. However, I believe that the petition is fundamentally wrong. All companies have an obligation to their shareholders to maximise their profits which means also taking all legal steps to minimise their tax bills. 

The present unfortunate situation with regard to many international companies is the result of massive incompetence by our government and the EU over many years. If our government wants international companies to pay a reasonable amount of UK Corporation Tax, it should reduce the tax rate, as Ireland did, to make it more attractive to pay tax in the UK than elsewhere. This would benefit all companies in the UK and encourage inward investment, whereas populist calls for Amazon and others to pay more tax without any legal basis will discourage inward investment. Alternatively, it should press for international agreement on a better way of assessing tax in relation to economic activity, although I suspect that this is never really going to work.

The other problem with Amazon, Google and eBay is that the competition authorities have sat on their hands while they built international monopolies. As far as I can see, this is almost impossible to undo.

As a small publisher, I have mixed feelings about Amazon and about bookshops. If you sell books through the Amazon Advantage programme, you are obliged to give Amazon 60% discount. Outrageous though this is (especially when you remember that the publisher has to pay royalties, typesetting, editing, production, delivery and other costs), it is often more attractive than trying to sell through bookshops which often expect equally high discounts and sometimes take years (quite literally) to pay you, although there are many honourable exceptions.

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Tim Ferriss: The 4-Hour Chef

I'll be very interested to see what happens to the new book from Tim Ferriss. Mr Ferriss says that the book has been banned by 700 bookshops (or 1000 according to an email I received) due to the opposition of a booktrade cabal opposed to his publisher, Amazon Publishing. He says that his marketing campaign for the book is 'a sniper shot directed at the heart of every member of the publishing oligarchy'. The irony for me is that he is relying on Amazon's near-monopoly of online bookselling to do so, just as I do.

I have no idea what The 4-Hour Chef is like but I intend to find out. It is published on 20 November and is available for pre-order in both <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0547884591/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0547884591&linkCode=as2&tag=tigerofthestr-20">Amazon US</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=tigerofthestr-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0547884591" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /> and <a href="http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1477800077/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=1477800077&linkCode=as2&tag=tigerukwebsit-21">Amazon UK</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.co.uk/e/ir?t=tigerukwebsit-21&l=as2&o=2&a=1477800077" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />. It is also available in <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005NJU8PA/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B005NJU8PA&linkCode=as2&tag=tigerofthestr-20">Kindle Format</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=tigerofthestr-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B005NJU8PA" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />. I have no doubt that it will be extremely entertaining and thought-provoking. Mr Ferriss has a very remarkable mind. I particularly like his approach to learning languages.

I should mention that if you buy from Amazon using these links I'll receive a small payment.

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An Apology for the Life of Major General Gunning

At Last, Tiger of the Stripe's first book with colour illustrations, An Apology for the life of Major General Gunning, is available (though, sadly with a slight delay) from Amazon US and Amazon UK. As Amazon Associates, we receive a small commission on sales made through these links.

The printers, Lightning Source, have made an excellent job of the colour printing.

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