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UK booksellers lash out at Amazon: 'We pay our taxes'

Booksellers across the UK have put up signs in their windows reading 'We pay our taxes' in response to a hearing by the Public Accounts Committee on Amazon's business practices.

By Staff Writer / November 20, 2012

Director of public policy for Amazon in Brussels Andrew Cecil speaks during a hearing with the Public Accounts Committee.

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After Amazon came under fire for their financial practices in Europe, independent booksellers are leaving no doubt as to where they stand in the debate.

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Signs reading “We Pay Our Taxes,” created by the Booksellers Association, have appeared in the windows of bookstores across the U.K.

During a hearing last week with the Public Accounts Committee, director of public policy for Amazon in Brussels Andrew Cecil was criticized for saying he’d have to get back to the committee with information on matters such as how the company was organized and its sales in individual European countries. Amazon channels its European sales through Luxembourg, where companies' profits are taxed at 11 percent, less than many other countries.

"It's just not acceptable," Margaret Hodge MP, the committee's chairman, said in an interview with Reuters about Cecil's failure to answer questions.  "It's outrageous.”

During the session, Cecil also stated that France is asking the company for $252 million in back taxes, an amount that also consists of interest and penalty charges.

Hodge told the BBC she thinks consumers should boycott Amazon and other companies – such as Starbucks – that were part of the hearing with the PAC. The British newspaper the Mirror is encouraging readers to avoid Amazon as well.

There are two different varieties of signs in booksellers’ windows – the first reads “Your Money, Your Bookshop, Your Community,” followed by “We Pay Our Taxes,” and the second states that the store “Can Pay Do Pay!,” with “We Pay Our Taxes” at the bottom.

“We're trying to promote ourselves,” Gerrards Cross Bookshop manager Janet Stewart told the Guardian. “We're honest, hardworking people who do pay our taxes – support your local bookshop is the message.”

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