British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has implored Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos to “pay more tax” during a meeting in New York on Monday, SurgeZirc UK reports.
Johnson, currently in New York for the United Nations General Assembly mooted the issue of taxation with the world’s richest man after estimates placed the company’s tax-to-turnover ratio at just 0.37%.
The Prime Minister, during a parley with journalists said he would urge Bezos to pay his fair share and also improve workers rights.
Amazon’s profits reportedly went up by 51% to nearly £20 billion, an ironic surge of fortune occasioned by the lockdown restrictions during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
On environment, the Prime Minister thanked ‘Amazon for coming to the rescue of the Amazon’ after Bezos pledged $1 billion to protect forests and remove carbon from the air.
Bezos, whose net worth is estimated at $200.6 billion (£146 billion) – arrived late for the meeting after being delayed by a roadblock.
‘I am very much hoping the hardest thing I do today is get here,’ Bezos remarked as he took his seat.
His partner Lauren Sanchez threw a jocular jibe at Johnson as she walked in wearing black high heels.
Waving her shoe at the Prime Minister she said: ‘He’s complaining? Really? Come on.’
After the meeting, a Downing Street spokesperson said: ‘The Prime Minister raised the issue of taxation, and hoped progress could be [made] in implementing the G7 agreement on tax.’
Boris Johnson is one of over 100 world leaders attending the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, albeit the size of delegations has been trimmed down because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Johnson’s insistence on prodding Bezos to pay more tax is hinged on a G7 agreement designed to stop big companies from avoiding tax by moving their operations between countries.
According to the conditions of the agreement signed off in June, companies can be taxed in any country where they earn above 10% profit on sales. Again, bosses would have to pay 20% tax.
It initially appeared as though Amazon may not fit the profile of the targeted companies, as it makes less than the 10% profit required. Officials nonetheless maintained that they had found a way to include the company.
According to a statement from Number 10, the duo also discussed the United Nations Climate Change Conference which is slated to start in October.
The statement read: ‘They agreed that there was an urgent need to mobilise more public and private money to help developing countries protect biodiversity, including through the LEAF Coalition.
‘The Prime Minister welcomed the Bezos Earth Fund’s commitment, announced tonight, to give 1 billion dollars (£730 million) to protect forests and remove carbon from the air.
‘The Prime Minister and Mr Bezos agreed to work together to see what more could be done in the run up to and at Cop26.’
Emphasizing his commitment to the environment, Bezos said: ‘In part, we are going to start with the Congo basin, we are going to start with some rain sanctuaries, in the Andes, two different areas. And we are part of the leaf coalition.’