eBay paid £1.6 million in UK tax despite reporting £1 billion in revenue for 2016


Online auction site eBay has assured that it is "fully compliant" with tax rules, after its UK accounts revealed it paid only £1.6 million in corporation tax despite reporting nearly £1 billion in revenue.

In an annual report published by its US parent firm earlier this year, eBay said its UK operations had booked net revenue of $1.3 billion (£9.8 billion) for the year to December 31, contributing to group total of $8.9 billion (£6.7 billion).

But a newly-filed earnings report on Companies House shows the online retailer only booked £200.4 million through its UK business for 2016, while pre-tax profits totalled £7.6 million.

It resulted in the company being taxed a mere £1.6 million on its UK operations.

It is not clear what caused the discrepancy between the US and UK revenue figures, and eBay representatives did not provide an explanation.

A spokesperson for eBay said: "In all countries and at all times, eBay is fully compliant with national, EU and international tax rules including those of the OECD, including the remittance of VAT to the appropriate authorities."


eBay UK runs as a wholly-owned subsidiary of eBay International - which is incorporated in Switzerland - and according to its accounts, saw part of its revenues generated from the parent company.

Those accounts also detailed that eBay UK's "principal" activities were to "provide services to eBay International AG by recommending market penetration for the UK internet marketplace and related third party advertising sales in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and Australia."

eBay is the latest US giant to see its accounts and UK taxes come under the microscope in Britain.

Earlier this month, filings showed Facebook's UK operations paid just £5.1 million in corporation tax last year, despite a jump in profit and a near quadrupling of revenues on the back of climbing ad sales.

The social media giant said revenues in the UK jumped from £210.8 million to £842.4 million for the year to December 31, helping pre-tax profits rise from £52.5 million to £58.4 million for the period.

But its UK corporation tax only rose to £5.1 million from £4.2 million a year earlier, and once deductible expenses were applied, the company only paid £2.58 million.

Facebook said the sharp rise in revenue was "attributable to the commencement of advertising reseller services" by its UK operations in April 2016, which drew in "large UK customers".

The slight increase in corporation tax came after Facebook was publicly criticised for contributing only £4.3 million in tax in 2014 under an arrangement that treated the UK operation's revenues as a payment from Facebook Ireland for services.

Taxi hailing app Uber also recently reported a jump in UK tax contributions, having paid out £410,000 in 2016, compared to £551,000 a year earlier.

It comes after its UK pre-tax profits surged 65% from £1.8 million to more than £3 million over the period.