Joe Biden rips into Amazon, says the company ‘should start paying their taxes’

  • Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden criticized Amazon on Friday, saying the company “should start paying their taxes.”
  • “I don’t think any company, I don’t give a damn how big they are, the Lord Almighty, should absolutely be in a position where they pay no tax and make billions and billions and billions of dollars, No. 1,” Biden said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
  • Amazon paid $0 in federal income taxes from 2016 to 2019, and it paid $162 million in 2020, or about 1.2% of its pre-tax income.
  • Biden’s statements echo sentiments from Republicans and Democrats: Both Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a former Democratic candidate for president, and President Donald Trump have called out Amazon in the past.
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Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden ripped into Amazon Friday morning, echoing President Donald Trump’s sentiment that Amazon should be paying more in taxes.

Biden was asked by Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” whether, like his former opponent Sen. Elizabeth Warren, he’d seek to break up Amazon. While Biden didn’t give a definitive answer on the antitrust issues that Warren has raised, he did criticize Amazon for its size compared to how much it pays in taxes.

“I think Amazon should start paying their taxes,” Biden said. “I don’t think any company, I don’t give a damn how big they are, the Lord Almighty, should absolutely be in a position where they pay no tax and make billions and billions and billions of dollars.”

Biden also seemed to allude to Amazon’s fulfillment centers, which have been criticized for employee wages, benefits, and safety, as well as the company’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

“I think that companies should be in a position where they start paying their employees a decent wage and protect their employees,” Biden said. “The whole notion of this is, are you playing the game fairly?”

This isn’t the first time Biden has criticized Amazon for its tax rate. In June 2019, Biden and Amazon sparred on Twitter after Biden tweeted that the company pays “a lower tax rate than firefighters and teachers.”

Amazon replied: “We’ve paid $2.6B in corporate taxes since 2016. We pay every penny we owe” and said his issue lies with the tax code, not Amazon.

A spokesperson for Amazon directed Business Insider to the company’s statement from June and declined to comment further.

Biden’s most recent comments come after both several of his presidential opponents and Trump have called out Amazon. Trump has berated Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, numerous times over the years, tweeting that the company doesn’t pay enough in taxes and that it’s putting local companies out of business.

In 2020, Amazon paid federal income taxes for the first time in four years, paying the government $162 million, about 1.2% of its pre-tax income.

It’s become easier in recent years for massive corporations like Amazon to avoid paying federal income taxes, due in large part to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was passed by Republicans in 2017 and supported by Trump.