Amazon pays a meager tax rate. By some calculations, they pay nothing at all. And many people are asking, Should Amazon pay so little in taxes?

This debate has two sides

  1. Amazon creates jobs and should continue to pay little or no tax.
  2. Amazon doesn’t pay its fair share and should pay more.

As with all dilemmas, I ask myself:

  • Am I asking the right questions?
  • What are the material consequences of each side of the argument?
  • What does life look like for the average human if one side, or the other, get their way?

This leads me to a better question: Should you and I pay more in taxes so Amazon can pay a lot less?

Seriously, are you, your siblings, your parents, and your children, better off paying more in taxes so Amazon can pay a lot less?

I’m not materially better off. Nor are my parents, siblings, etc.

So, Yes, Amazon should pay more in taxes. Otherwise, you, and I, and the 327 million folks in the U. S. will have to make up the difference. And that’s a bad deal.

Now, let’s hear some objections.

But Stewie, Amazon creates jobs! We should reward companies that create jobs!

Yes, Amazon creates jobs.

It also killed numerous retail jobs. And it will kill even more this year.

If we want to make the job-creators-get-tax-benefits argument, we have to look at the whole picture. We have to accept that Amazon may have killed more jobs than it created, in which case, logic says job-killers-get-tax-penalties, right? Let’s be consistent.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say it created a net positive number of jobs. My question remains: Should you and I pay more in taxes so Amazon can pay a lot less?

For me, the answer is a resounding, No.

But I’d be happy to change my view if you can demonstrate how Amazon has created hundreds of thousands of high-paying — or at least good-paying — jobs.

Instead, I keep reading reports of how some Amazon employees qualify for food stamps.

But Stewie, Amazon pays what is legally required!

Ok, sure.

But should we change the tax code, so Amazon pays more so that we pay less? Or are you happy to pay more in taxes?

But Stewie, this would be bad for Amazon’s stock price!

You’re probably right.

Should you and I pay more in taxes to protect Amazon’s stock price? Does that sound reasonable?

I don’t think so.