* John Lewis chief says lower taxed rivals threaten UK firms
* Wants level playing field on corporate taxation
* Concern rising internationally over tax loopholes
LONDON, Nov 14 The head of Britain's largest
department store group said on Wednesday the government should
examine tax advantages enjoyed by multinational companies such
as online retailer Amazon, appealing for a level
playing field in taxation.
John Lewis Managing Director Andy Street said
international firms operating in Britain but based in low-tax
countries posed a threat to the long-term future of British
"You have got less money to invest if you are giving 27
percent of your profits to the exchequer than if you are
domiciled in a tax haven," he told Sky News.
"So they will out-invest and ultimately out-trade us and
that means there will not be the tax base in the UK. So I do
think it is an issue that needs to be examined."
Britain's Treasury department "should look at exactly what
is happening," he said when asked about competition from
multinational rival Amazon, which bills its European customers
from a Luxembourg-based subsidiary.
Street was echoing concerns raised by UK lawmakers on Monday
who criticised Amazon, Google and Starbucks
executives for not paying more tax in Britain.
The issue of big firms using loopholes to minimise their tax
bills is rising up the political agenda, with Germany and
Britain leading a drive among the Group of 20 economic powers to
make multinationals pay their "fair share" of taxes.
France, where Amazon is fighting a $252 million back tax
claim, said on Wednesday it was discussing how to tax internet
companies at both national and international levels.
Last month a Reuters report showed coffee retailer Starbucks
paid no corporation or income tax in Britain in the past three
years and had paid only 8.8 million pounds since 1998. In the
same period it sold 3.1 billion pounds of coffee.
Street said he backed the principle that corporate income
should be taxed in the country in which it was earned.
"It is to do with what our customers expect around a fair
and level playing field. And I suspect our customers do think
both companies should be treated in the same way," he added,
referring to John Lewis and Amazon.