News & Events

Amazon Investors Push Company on Global Tax Transparency

Shareholders Representing $144 Billion Endorse Tax Transparency Shareholder Proposal Co-filed by FACT Coalition Member

Washington, DC – Amazon shareholders representing $144 billion backed a shareholder proposal calling for increased tax transparency by the company at its annual general meeting on Wednesday. This is the first time such a shareholder proposal has gone for a vote.

“Wednesday’s historic vote is yet another indication of the unstoppable momentum for greater multinational corporate tax and financial transparency,” said Ian Gary, Executive Director of the FACT Coalition.”Investors said loud and clear that they need tax transparency to understand the financial, regulatory, and reputational risks companies may face due to blatant tax avoidance strategies.”

Multinational companies such as Amazon use accounting tricks to dodge billions in taxes every year. Public reports of taxes paid and other information paid in every jurisdiction can shine a light on how companies can artificially move profits from high to low or no tax jurisdictions, starving governments around the world of the needed revenue to fight inequality, combat climate change, and provide essential services.

“Amazon and other multinationals already share this information privately with tax authorities. It’s only the public, workers, investors, and policy makers who are kept in the dark,” Gary said. “Tax transparency gives us a flashlight to see the corporate tax practices at play, and fuels a public debate on fixing our broken tax system.” 

More than 21 percent of independent shareholders backed the proposal, including prominent investors such as Norway’s state pension fund, UK investment fund Legal & General Investment Management, and the New York City Comptroller. Proxy advisory firms such as Glass Lewis and Morningstar also recommended voting in favor of the proposal. Amazon had fought inclusion of the proposal but the Securities and Exchange Commission sided with shareholders and the proposal was on the ballot today.

“While Amazon fights tax transparency, other major multinational corporations are embracing it,” said Fr. Séamus Finn OMI of Missionary Oblates, a FACT Coalition member and a co-filer of the proposal. “We are pleased to see many major investment and pension funds agree with us that this is critical information to inform investors and policymakers and give them the assurance that our company is fulfilling its responsibility to promote the common good.”

For years, the FACT Coalition has been calling on Congress, regulators, and companies to support “public country-by-country reporting” to both inform investors and curb aggressive tax avoidance strategies. Last June, the House of Representatives passed the Disclosure of Tax Havens and Offshoring Act which would require many large multinationals to publicly disclose their taxes and other key financial information. And at the end of last year, the European Union approved a new public country-by-country reporting requirement. Last weekend, public country-by-country reporting was part of the winning party platform of Antony Albanese, the newly-elected Prime Minister of Australia. 

“Today’s vote shows that Amazon should respond to investor demands and voluntarily increase its tax transparency,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness. “Given the momentum, it’s inevitable that major multinational companies will be forced to disclose this information. It’s better for Amazon to get ahead of the curve.”

In addition to the shareholder proposal, more than 90,000 Americans signed a petition calling on the Amazon board to accept the tax transparency measure.

“Americans recognize that our tax system is unfair. Amazon uses our public goods—for example its delivery trucks use roads paid for by taxpayers—and it’s past time for Amazon to reveal information so that investors and the public can have a complete picture of how the company’s structure enables tax dodging,” said Susan Harley, managing director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and a FACT Coalition member.

Notes to the Editor

  • Shareholder Proposal #12 asks Amazon to disclose using the Global Reporting Initiative Tax Standard, a comprehensive standard used by many companies and developed with input from companies, investors, and civil society. The disclosures required include:revenues;  profit/loss before tax; corporate income tax paid; number of employees; and other indicators of financial and economic indicators.
  • The proposal was filed by Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a Catholic investment fund, and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. The shareholders have been supported by advisory firm PIRC and the Center for Corporate Tax Accountability and Research (CICTAR).   
  • In April, the SEC sided with investors to allow the Amazon tax transparency proposal to move forward. 
  • Through an OECD agreement, large multinational companies already share country-by-country reports with tax authorities.
  • Amazon petition calling for tax transparency.
  • In June last year, the Disclosure of Tax Havens and Offshoring Act passed the House of Representatives. A companion bill is awaiting Senate action. 
  • While Amazon workers are fighting for living wages and organizing to join unions, Amazon is making record profits. In 2021, Amazon recorded a record $35 billion in profits but paid only $2.1 billion in corporate income taxes.
  • In 2018, Amazon paid $0 in federal income taxes to the U.S. on $11 billion in profits. It paid a tax rate of just 5% on nearly $80 billion in profits the last four years. The average American taxpayer pays a 13% federal income tax rate