Thursday 3 January 2013

Taxes, ethics and online book sales

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!

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages where you can find out more. 


Optimistic Existentialist said...

Since we're alwways visiting each other's blogs I figure I may as well follow lol. May I follow your wonderful blog?

Crafty Green Poet said...

Hi there, Optimistic - I'd be delighted if you followed my blog. I'll try to return the favour, though sometimes Blogger / Google is temperamental and doesn't let me follow....

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Life is a missing button...I am referring, sorry, to your previous great post.

Maybe rock music is something you don't care much or maybe you do but Hogmanay night with The View from Dundee and The Simple Minds was sublime at the gardens.
The piece the Simple Minds started with was absolutely powerful, unforgettable, pure energy and craft.
You live in the city I most love.
And I didn't remember you know Italian!

EG CameraGirl said...

Hmmm. This is an interesting post, Juliet. I'm not sure where I stand on this issue and will need to think about it.

Susan Malter said...

I found you after reading a bit from a blogger who likes to bring cake whenever she travels. I am stopping to comment because I would like to change my purchasing habits. I received an e-book reader as a gift and became an amazon buyer. Thank you for reminding me to be responsible. Everything matters.