Amazon

Amazon surpassed $1 trillion in market value last month, compared to Walmart’s $282 billion. Yet somehow, Amazon has managed to pay just a fraction of the taxes Walmart pays.

That’s according to a recent article in the New York Post on a recent talk New York University marketing professor and frequent Amazon critic Scott Galloway gave at a recent conference. Galloway is also author of The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, which breaks down how America’s biggest tech companies have so thoroughly taken over society and are impervious to the whims of the stock market.

In The Four, Galloway includes some eye-popping statistics about Amazon that have gone largely under the radar of the media. Namely, that the online retail giant’s stock price has grown at a rate of 1,910 percent in the ten-year period between 2006 and 2016, and that it has paid just $1.4 billion in taxes since the Great Recession, while Walmart — considered perhaps the biggest brick-and-mortar retailer in the world — has paid $64 billion in taxes.

This means Amazon, despite being much bigger and much richer than Walmart, has paid just two percent of the taxes Walmart has paid in the same time period. In 2017, despite pulling in more than $5 billion in profit, Amazon paid $0 in federal income taxes. In fact, Amazon got a $137 million refund from Uncle Sam despite being one of the richest companies in history.

And thanks to President Trump’s corporate tax package signed into law late last year, Amazon will likely get even bigger refunds in the future. Thanks to the bill’s reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, Amazon was able to avoid $789 million in federal taxes.

Amazon
Companies that paid negative income tax rates in 2017 (Data from SEC, Chart by Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy)

“We have institutionalized a regressive corporate tax structure at the hands of our idolatry of innovators and Amazon,” Galloway said at the recent Recode Code Commerce.

One of the biggest corporate tax breaks the company took advantage of last year is the executive stock compensation tax break, which allows companies to deduct from their tax bill any options executives like Jeff Bezos buy for just a fraction of the typical share price.

Even though Bezos pays pennies on the dollar for company stock, Amazon is able to deduct the full share price on its taxes. According to Seattle PI, the company was able to write off $917 million in federal taxes due to this specific break. Jeff Bezos — the world’s richest man — has a net worth in excess of $150 billion, most of which is in Amazon stock. His Washington, DC mansion has 25 bathrooms.

In order to combat the seemingly unstoppable growth and market dominance of companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple, Galloway proposes breaking them up.

“The key to competitive markets is that no one entity has too much control of the marketplace,” Galloway said. “Teddy Roosevelt broke up the railroads. If the Department of Justice hadn’t moved in on Microsoft [in 1998], do you think we would have Google? We don’t break companies up because they’re evil or take jobs or don’t pay taxes. We do it because it’s time.”

 

Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.

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