European Commission opens investigation of transfer pricing arrangements on corporate taxation of Amazon in Luxembourg, October 2014

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The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to examine whether the decision by Luxembourg’s tax authorities with regard to the corporate income tax to be paid by Amazon in Luxembourg comply with the EU rules on state aid. The opening of an in-depth investigation gives interested third parties and the Member States concerned an opportunity to submit comments. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.

The tax ruling in favour of Amazon under investigation dates back to 2003 and is still in force. It applies to Amazon’s subsidiary Amazon EU Sàrl, which is based in Luxembourg and records most of Amazon’s European profits. Based on a methodology set by the tax ruling, Amazon EU Sàrl pays a tax deductible royalty to a limited liability partnership established in Luxembourg but which is not subject to corporate taxation in Luxembourg. As a result, most European profits of Amazon are recorded in Luxembourg but are not taxed in Luxembourg.

The Commission considers that the amount of this royalty, which lowers the taxable profits of Amazon EU Sàrl each year, might not be in line with market conditions. The Commission has concerns that the ruling could underestimate the taxable profits of Amazon EU Sàrl, and thereby grant an economic advantage to Amazon by allowing the group to pay less tax than other companies whose profits are allocated in line with market terms. The Commission will now continue investigating to determine whether its concerns are confirmed.

 

State aid Luxembourg Amazon, October 2014

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