An ‘Amazon Tax’ in the UK would force vulnerable shoppers to “pick up a large chunk of the COVID-19 bill” according to industry experts.
A nationwide online sales tax was yesterday proposed by chancellor Rishi Sunak in a bid to alleviate the pressure on the crumbling high street and provide a £2 billion “sustainable and meaningful revenue source for the government”.
The chancellors proposed measures would see a two per cent levy on all online sales alongside further charges for online deliveries.
Retail groups including the British Retail Consortium (BRC) have warned against these proposals, stating that they would unfairly impact shoppers who have turned to online shopping to avoid exposure to COVID-19.
“Taxing the sale or delivery of online goods would simply be another burden on an already overtaxed industry, one that would ultimately hit consumer spending through higher prices,” the BRC’s director of business and regulation Tom Ironside said.
“Throughout the pandemic, many of us have been relying on retailers to ramp up their online services to ensure we can all get the goods we need.
“The government should not harm these efforts by further taxing the businesses providing these services, and the people they serve.”
Delivery giant ParcelHero’s head of consumer services David Jinks added: “A two per cent levy on online sales, in addition to the previously reported mandatory charge on consumer deliveries, is simply unfair on the huge number of elderly or shielding people who have turned to online shopping for the first time during the pandemic.
“It must not be home shoppers left to pick up a large chunk of the Covid-19 bill.
“There is no denying that High Street retail and, indeed, much of the entire economy is struggling, but certain sectors of e-commerce continue to thrive. The Chancellor’s response should be to encourage this one bright area of retail rather than impose two steep, new taxes on it.”
It comes as the government scrambles to secure new streams of revenue as the country faces the deepest recession for 300 years, with a £322 billion hole in public finances.