Published: Sun, April 14, 2019
Economy | By

Amazon, Walmart trade barbs on taxes, wages

Amazon, Walmart trade barbs on taxes, wages

Bezos also challenged rival retailers to match Amazon's minimum wage of $15 per hour.

Bezos laid down the challenge in his annual shareholder letter, published on Thursday. Better yet, go to US$16 and throw the gauntlet back at us.

Late past year, Amazon jumped ahead of many rivals by raising its minimum wage for US workers to $15 an hour.

"Last year, we improved Alexa's ability to understand requests and answer questions by more than 20%, while adding billions of facts to make Alexa more knowledgeable than ever", Bezos said. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.

Some critics have said the hike was insufficient and note that Amazon paid zero US federal income tax on more than $11 billion in profits before taxes in 2018, and received a $129 million tax rebate from the federal government.

Walmart, which has raised its minimum wage twice since 2015, pays an entry wage of $11 per hour. That pay hike was not universally praised by all workers, who said the company cut two employee benefits as well: monthly bonuses and the chance to own some of Amazon's sky-rocketing stock. "Third-party sellers are kicking our first-party butt", Bezos wrote, attributing their success to tools built by Amazon, including the Prime subscription program and Fulfillment by Amazon distribution service. The pilots staging protests are from Atlas Air, Southern Air and ABX Air.

"Since the first-generation Echo, customers have purchased more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices", he said.

"As a company grows, everything needs to scale, including the size of your failed experiments", Bezos wrote.

The CEO said he believed the wage hike was good for business, saying the increase was "beyond competitive". He mentioned educational programs available to workers and paid for by Amazon as well as the Amazon Future Engineer program with which the company hopes to get more people working in STEM fields.

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