An anonymous reader shares a report: Amazon’s taxes have become a campaign issue. In last week’s Democratic debates, two different candidates (Cory Booker and Andrew Yang) called out Amazon for paying $0 in federal income taxes last year, even after listing $4 billion in profits. Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and President Trump himself have brought up the same point at various points on the campaign trail, always directed at Amazon. In a CNN interview after the second debate, Bernie Sanders singled the company out as an example of a broken tax code, saying simply, “I’m going to tax them.”
“We pay every penny we owe in corporate taxes including $2.6 billion over the past three years,” Amazon said when reached for comment. “We’ve invested $270 billion in the US since 2010 and created more than 275,000 jobs.” But there’s an awkward truth behind the political back-and-forth: we don’t know what Amazon’s tax bill really is. Like every other company in America, Amazon’s tax returns are private, legally considered to be a trade secret. We don’t know which tax breaks they’re taking, or how they’ve structured their finances to avoid various taxes in favor of others. If Amazon says its tax bill was lower because of investments, we simply have to take the company at its word.