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Amazon faces a nearly $300 million tax bill in Europe

European watchdogs chase down another US giant ruled to have illegally dodged tax payments.

Amazon staff go about their day.

James Martin/CNET

European regulators have slapped Amazon with a bill for 250 million euros (about £220 million, $294 million or AU$370 million) in unpaid taxes. 

The online giant was found by the European Commission to have an illegal deal with Luxembourg since 2003, which allowed the US company to move money between its subsidiaries so profits were taxed there instead of a country with a higher corporate rate. 

"Almost three quarters of Amazon's profits were not taxed," said European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in an official statement. "Amazon was allowed to pay four times less tax than other local companies subject to the same national tax rules. This is illegal under EU State aid rules. Member States cannot give selective tax benefits to multinational groups that are not available to others."

An Amazon spokesperson told CNET the company disputes the allegation of special treatment from Luxembourg, and will consider an appeal.

Amazon shouldn't have any problem stumping up the cash, having turned over revenue of $35.7 billion in the first quarter of 2017 alone.

The ruling is the latest example of European watchdogs going after tax avoidance by US companies.Last year, for instance, Apple was told to pay a whopping 13 billion euros in back taxes. That's around £11 billion, $14.5 billion or AU$18 billion. 

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