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What Is Amazon’s Core Tech Worth? Depends on Which Taxman Asks

  • Company’s portrayal of IP value differs between U.S. and EU
  • Tax strategy draws scrutiny of regulators on both continents

Jeff Bezos’s relentless focus on user experience has helped him make Amazon the most valuable e-commerce company in the world. But regulators in Europe and the U.S. say that the value Amazon places on the technology behind that experience varies radically depending on which side of the Atlantic it’s on -- and which appraisal will lower its tax bill.

In Europe, the e-commerce giant tells authorities that the intellectual property behind its web shopping platform is immensely valuable, justifying the billions in tax-free revenue it has collected there since moving its technology assets to tax-friendly Luxembourg a decade ago. In the U.S., however, it plays down the value of those same assets to explain why it pays so little in taxes for licensing them.