Amazon, Britain's biggest online retailer, generated sales of more than £3.3bn in the country in 2011/2012 but paid no corporation tax on any of their profits – and has been investigated by the UK tax authorities.
For those who like to buy books online this may cause an ethical dilemma. Do you boycott Amazon and lose out on finding great books or do you continue to buy there and put up with the vague (or stronger) sense of unease over supporting the company's practices?
There is an alternative - Green Metropolis is a UK book selling website that supports charities (including Woodland Trust). This site doesn't have as wide a selection of books as Amazon (nor does it sell anything else but books) but it is simpler to use and all books are sold for the same price (£3.75 including UK postage).
Many publishers and bookshops also have online stores these days, so it's always worth checking these out rather than going straight to Amazon.
Similarly if you abhor the fact that Google has not only avoided tax in the UK but is quoted as being proud of doing so, then you may like to switch your internet searching to an ethical search engine, which raises money for charity. I use Everyclick, which allows you to choose any UK charity you wish to support. I use it to raise money for Gorgie City Farm in Edinburgh. If your chosen UK charity isn't represented on Everyclick then you can encourage the charity to sign up.
Of course, tax avoidance (as opposed to evasion) is usually legal and needs to be addressed at the governmental level. I suspect not many companies are so ethical that they'll say 'oh we'll not do that, because it would mean we make money unethically' particularly not with their boards and accountants standing over their shoulders advising them on how to maximise profits. But ethics do matter more and more to the public and even the biggest companies need to be taking this on board.
And of course, tax avoidance by big companies is only one of many reasons to make the ethical choice!
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