- Sen. Bernie Sanders went after Amazon as the company’s valuation swelled on strong holiday sales numbers.
- The stock surge over consumers’ robust Christmas shopping splurge has made founder and CEO Jeff Bezos the world’s richest again.
- But the populist Democratic candidate for president wants to see Amazon pay more than $0 in federal income taxes
2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders just stepped up his war on Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). His most recent line of attack is a call for the retail titan to start paying some taxes to the Treasury. Jeff Bezos should take the threat to Amazon’s profits seriously. Sanders is a frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, and party insiders say he’s gaining ground.
On Thursday the Politico reported that ranking Clinton and Obama allies are taking Bernie Sanders very seriously in the upcoming primaries.
For instance, former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer said:
I believe people should take him very seriously. He has a very good shot of winning Iowa, a very good shot of winning New Hampshire, and other than Joe Biden, the best shot of winning Nevada.
Should Sanders catch fire and march all the way to the White House, expect Amazon stock to have a rough four years.
Bernie Sanders’ War on Amazon
The tax issue is merely the latest front in Bernie’s war on Amazon. The Vermont senator has been a vocal advocate for a federal $15 minimum wage. Sanders praised Jeff Bezos last year when Amazon adopted the $15 floor on wages voluntarily for U.S. employees.
But it wasn’t long before Bernie Sanders took Amazon to task for working conditions in its warehouses. He called on the company to “significantly improve working conditions” following media reports of long working hours, intense pressure from management, and workplace injuries.
By August this year, Sanders lashed out at Jeff Bezos for unfair media coverage. At a campaign stop in the early primary state of New Hampshire, he said:
And then I wonder why The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn’t write particularly good articles about me. I don’t know why.
Amazon Sales, Stock Boom – 2018 Taxes Were $0
As of Friday, Amazon stock values had grown by $330 in 2019, delivering a return of more than 21% to equity held at $1,539 per share on the first day of trading this year. A big holiday boost to Amazon stock made Bezos the world’s richest person. He reclaimed the title from Bill Gates this week in their neck and neck race for the highest net worth.
But despite its massive cash haul and booming market value, Amazon is likely to pay zero corporate income taxes in 2019, just like it did last year.
In 2018, the e-commerce giant made a mouth-watering $11 billion in profits. Yet it paid even less than $0 in taxes. Amazon actually received $129 million in tax rebates, for an unbelievable effective federal tax rate of negative one percent.
That’s less than the tax rate paid by the poorest 20% of U.S. households. Judging by the number of Amazon employees on federal food support programs like SNAP, Amazon employees themselves make up some of those poorest households.
No wonder Amazon employees make up Bernie Sanders’ third largest group of campaign contributors by company in the 2020 election cycle.
They’re followed closely by Microsoft employees. Sanders’ top two contributors are Alphabet Inc in second, and the University of California in first.
In the latest Real Clear Politics average of polling data, Sanders is polling in second place for the Democratic presidential nomination at 18.8%. He’s leading Senate colleague Elizabeth Warren at 15.2%. He’s trailing former Vice President Joe Biden at 28.1%.