Does Amazon really pay no taxes? Here’s the complicated answer

Democratic presidential candidates have seized on reports that Amazon.com Inc. paid no 2018 federal taxes as they press for changes in the tax system.

A closer look at the internet giant’s tax disclosures over several years paints a more complicated picture: Amazon has paid income taxes somewhere, albeit at a low rate, likely helped by deductions and incentives related to investment, research and employee compensation.

Earlier this week, former Vice President Joe Biden spotlighted the company’s tax payments during a campaign stop in Iowa, this week, saying it should at least pay some taxes. He tweeted Thursday: “No company pulling in billions of dollars of profits should pay a lower tax rate than firefighters and teachers.”

Amazon tweeted back: “We pay every penny we owe. Congress designed tax laws to encourage companies to reinvest in the American economy. We have. ... Assume VP Biden’s complaint is w/ the tax code, not Amazon.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) cited Amazon as she proposed a new corporate tax that would have cost the company nearly $700 million in 2018.

Here are some questions and answers exploring the company’s tax situation.

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