Amazon under pressure from investors for tax transparency

Share this

Twenty-four institutional investors in Amazon are lobbying the e-commerce group to increase transparency about where and how much it pays in taxes around the world.

Investors – which include wealth managers Nordea, Royal London, and several large European and US pension funds – are looking to get a shareholder resolution presented at this year’s annual group meeting, which if passed would significantly revise public information. company tax.

The resolution asking Amazon to adopt a new reporting standard on tax practices was originally proposed by a Catholic investment fund and a UK public pension scheme in December.

Amazon, which has drawn criticism of its tax transparency in the past, is contesting the resolution. In January, he wrote to the US Securities and Exchange Commission asking for approval to exclude the resolution from the vote at its next meeting. Amazon said its tax affairs are a normal business affair and therefore subject to a shareholder resolution exemption.

However, investors backing the motion, who collectively oversee approximately $ 1.2 trillion in assets, are rejecting and lobbying the SEC to allow the proposal.

“A company’s tax practices are financially relevant,” they said in a letter to the body, which will be sent earlier this week and viewed by the Financial Times. “Aggressive tax practices can expose a company – and its investors – to greater scrutiny by tax authorities, adjustment risks and increase their vulnerability to changes in tax rules as countries seek to protect their tax bases from detrimental practices.” .

They said they need “to receive sufficient information to assess a company’s tax position and governance approach and anticipate future impacts and risks to their holdings.”

Shareholder Resolution urges Amazon’s board of directors to publish a report on tax transparency to shareholders, “at reasonable expense and excluding confidential information” in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) tax standard.

This model requires companies to disclose their business activities, revenues, profits and taxes paid in each country in which they operate. Amazon does not currently publicly disclose its revenues, profits, or tax payments on a country-by-country basis outside of the US.

Investors said the compliance burden for Amazon to adopt the increased disclosure would be “minimal” as multinationals are already required to provide country-by-country tax information to the US tax authority, under existing international rules.

This information is shared by the tax authorities but is not disclosed to the public. Any further compliance “would be greatly outweighed by the benefits of this information to investors,” they said.

Amazon said it “already provides extensive and detailed disclosure regarding its contributions to income taxes… In the United States in its annual and quarterly reports submitted publicly to the Commission,” and added that it “has also publicly reported on its contributions. total tax in the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Spain “.

More than 100 groups overseeing $ 3.6 trillion in assets signed the letter, including the New York City Office of the Comptroller, which oversees the city’s $ 274.7 billion public pension funds and Universities’ £ 82 billion. Superannuation Scheme, the UK’s largest private pension fund by activity.

The signatories also included several religious and environmental, social and governance funds, although not all of them invest in Amazon.

The original shareholder resolution was presented by the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, a Catholic investment fund and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. The Pirc shareholder advisory group coordinated the letter.

Share this

Leave a Comment