News Release

Is Amazon Ripping Off Taxpayers?

GREG LeROY, goodjobs at, @goodjobsfirst
LeRoy is executive director for Good Jobs First. In response to’s announcement of a 20-site “short list” for its second headquarters, or “HQ2,” location, he said today in a statement: “Amazon continues to behave as we predicted it would, staging a public relations stunt apparently to extract the largest possible subsidies from its chosen site. …

“More than 130 organizations have signed an open letter to Jeff Bezos demanding that Amazon abandon any plans to avoid paying its taxes and instead engage with community groups on specific benefit agreements to ensure that the HQ2 project does not impose higher taxes and displacing gentrification onto current residents. Good Jobs First signed this demand: no special tax breaks or subsidies for Amazon; instead the company should engage and agree to community benefits.

“To the 20 localities named as remaining contenders, we say: fully disclose your bids right now and invite real public participation to revise them. Your residents need to know if your proposed deal is structured to help them benefit in any way and to shield them from gentrification. …

“Amazon is merely the latest company to exploit America’s 80-year old site location system that has evolved to give companies all the power and ensure that public officials are helpless to protect taxpayer interests. The problem is especially acute for ‘megadeals,’ where we estimate the average cost per job at $658,000, a level at which taxpayers will never break even. As we have twice written, there is a real risk that Amazon could obtain a negative income tax rate while also avoiding sales and property taxes.”

Also see a recent piece by David Dayen in The New Republic: “Amazon Is Thriving Thanks to Taxpayer Dollars.”