EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2918 - October 22, 2012     1 of 5

eBay Dragged into Corporate Tax Brouhaha in UK

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Tax talk has been permeating the airwaves in the U.S. thanks to the Presidential race, but the UK is home of a different kind of tax chatter these days. Fury is rising over reports that U.S.-based corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes on revenue generated in the British Isles.

eBay is the latest company to get attention from UK newspapers who've already "outed", Ikea, Facebook, Google and Starbucks.

The Sunday Times reported yesterday, "eBay paid barely more than 1m in corporation tax in Britain despite generating sales here of almost 800m in a year. A Sunday Times investigation can reveal that the American company legally channels payments through Luxembourg and Switzerland to avoid paying nearly 50m in tax in Britain."

The Guardian said the UK government was coming under mounting pressure to "stop dragging its feet on reforming international tax rules" in the wake of these revelations. The newspaper was careful to point out, "There is no suggestion that any of the companies that have been identified as paying low taxes in the UK have broken any laws, and all say they comply with local tax rules."

eBay also uses a legal tactic to lower its tax liability in the U.S. The company avoids paying repatriation taxes by keeping cash offshore to the tune of about $7 billion.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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