Amazon and different main web retailers could possibly be hit with a brand new on-line gross sales tax to assist the UK pay its money owed after in depth borrowing through the pandemic.
Treasury sources confirmed Chancellor Rishi Sunak is contemplating focusing on firms which have completed nicely out of the pandemic to assist pay again UK authorities money owed constructed up supporting industries by the COVID-19 disaster.
The brand new tax is being thought-about as a part of a enterprise charges overview after a session was held final yr.
Amazon gross sales within the UK elevated by 51% to almost £20bn in 2020, as lockdown restrictions compelled individuals to purchase on-line.
ASOS, the net garments retailer, and meals supply firms comparable to Deliveroo additionally benefited, with earnings spiking through the numerous lockdowns over the previous yr.
Leaked emails confirmed Treasury officers had summoned tech companies and retailers to a gathering this month to debate the net gross sales tax, the Sunday Instances reported.
The paper mentioned Downing Avenue can also be introducing an “extreme earnings tax” on firms which have seen earnings surge attributable to COVID-19, which means a double hit for Amazon.
A Treasury spokesman mentioned: “We need to see thriving excessive streets, which is why we have spent tens of billions of kilos supporting retailers all through the pandemic and are supporting city centres by the adjustments on-line procuring brings.
“Our enterprise charges overview name for proof included questions on whether or not we must always shift the steadiness between on-line and bodily retailers by introducing a web-based gross sales tax. We’re contemplating responses now.”
Mr Sunak shouldn’t be anticipated to suggest the tax at his 3 March funds and can as an alternative have a look at extending furlough and the enterprise charges vacation.
Regardless of Amazon’s practically £20bn revenue for 2020 it solely had a tax turnover ratio of 0.37%, in keeping with actual property adviser Altus Group.
Altus checked out Amazon’s whole UK property, together with places of work, warehouses and assortment lockers, and located its total enterprise charges liabilities have been estimated to be round £71.5m firstly of the 2020/21 monetary yr.
Excessive avenue retailers paid round 2.3% of annual retail gross sales in enterprise charges earlier than the pandemic, the Centre for Retail Analysis mentioned.
TechUK, the UK’s expertise commerce affiliation, instructed Sky Information it had not obtained a request from Treasury officers for a gathering this month.
“We’d, nevertheless, welcome the chance to debate the general dangers and advantages of such a tax, the results on enterprise or the broader buyer and financial impacts,” a spokesman mentioned.
“Tech companies have performed a elementary position in holding the economic system operating during the last yr and shall be important to future financial progress and restoration.”
Helen Dickenson, chief government of the British Retail Consortium, mentioned ministers mustn’t stop companies’ skill to get well from the pandemic.
“The important thing to reviving our excessive streets is prime reform of the enterprise charges system and we oppose any new taxes that improve the associated fee burden on the trade which is already too excessive,” she mentioned.
“Financial restoration after COVID shall be powered by client demand – the chancellor ought to guarantee he would not introduce any new taxes that stifle this.”
Amazon mentioned it will not touch upon the net gross sales tax studies.
A spokesman mentioned: “Final yr we created 10,000 new jobs and final week we introduced 1,000 new apprenticeships.
“This continued funding helped contribute to a complete tax contribution of £1.1 billion throughout 2019 – £293 million in direct taxes and £854 million in oblique taxes.”