Amazon's UK division is being investigated by HM Revenue Customs (HMRC) for apparently having not paid any UK corporation tax over the past three years - despite having done more than £7bn in UK sales over that period - US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings reveal.
The US web retail giant, which amassed £3.3bn in UK sales last year, also is - or might be - the subject of tax investigations in a handful of other countries, according to SEC filings.
In February 2006, Luxembourg-based EU Sarl purchased Amazon's UK division. Since then, Amazon's UK sales have been billed and taxed in Luxembourg, where the company's corporation taxes have been lower than they would have been in the UK.
An SEC filing on 1 February said the company is:
subject to taxation in various states and other foreign jurisdictions including China, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom. We are or may be subject to examination by these particular tax authorities for the calendar year 2003 or thereafter.
In that filing, the company also said it is under investigation by the US Internal Revenue Service. Amazon currently pays tax only in the minority of US states in which it has warehouses or operations.
The company's UK division launched in 1998, and is the most visited UK retail website. One in four books sold by Amazon is sold in the UK.
Shares in Amazon hit an all-time high of $246.71 last October, but have since fallen more than 20 per cent.