Amazon is the target of a new campaign launched by a York business leader to make the online retailer pay their fair share of business rates.
York Retail Forum chair Phil Pinder believes that Amazon and its rivals should pay business rates just like physical stores do.
Pinder says this will put an end to smaller shops paying more in taxes than the big conglomerates as well raise much-needed funds for the exchequer.
He did however say that local councils and organisations such as York BID have done a lot to help businesses in the past year.
“But to be honest, it’s all going to be for nothing if we don’t fix one crying out issue, and that is business rates,” he added.
“Today, we’re going to start campaigning on York Mix to level that playing field with one simple idea. And that’s that websites should have a rateable value.
“Business rates are sort of based on footfall, so the busiest shopping centres like Oxford Street in London, that’s where you pay the highest business rates.
“So why shouldn’t the websites that are getting the busiest footfall in terms of clicks pay the highest business rates based on the number of hits that their website gets?”
Pinder pointed out that Amazon only paid 0.37 per cent tax on its UK turnover last year, while a supermarket chain would pay four to five per cent.
“Amazon generates sales around £20 billion a year and avoids business rates by not having many physical shops on the High Street.
“Business rates for smaller shops, for example, would be around five per cent of their turnover.”
He added that if Amazon was made to pay this too, “that’d be a billion pound in extra tax for Rishi Sunak at the Treasury. That’s around 40,000 nurses on a fully qualified rate for the NHS.”
“A typical smaller shop in York Shambles will have a rateable value of about £15,000 to £20,000 a year. That means you have to pay about 45 per cent of that as tax, it might even be 48 per cent.”