Saturday, 22 September, 2018

President Trump Just Confirmed the Report He Wants to 'Go After' Amazon

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Scott Davis | 02 April, 2018, 00:48

The move came about a week before US President Trump accused the company in a tweet of not paying enough tax, taking advantage of the US postal system and putting small retailers out of business.

While the White House downplayed the report, Trump himself tweeted Thursday that he has long had concerns about Amazon. Amazon does not collect state sales tax from third-party sellers in parts of the USA, in some cases those sellers are required to collect the tax.

It's also true that Amazon, as well as other online retailers, may not pay taxes in some areas, but that's because the laws there haven't kept pace with technology, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

In the case to be argued on April 17, South Dakota is asking the nine justices to overturn a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that only companies with a physical presence in a state are required to collect the state's sales tax on purchases. Or is it something to do with the CEO and founder of Amazon, billionaire Jeff Bezos? Among the challenges that the postal service faces is its duty to serve the entire country. But it was not the first time Trump has criticized Amazon or its chief executive, Jeff Bezos. Amazon does not have to collect taxes on third-party sellers using its Marketplace service. Now the company charges sales taxes in the 45 states that have them and the District of Columbia.

It's well established that the online retail giant has grown at the expense of brick-and-mortar shops. Separate figures in the report show it was expecting to pay $100 million to $200 million in taxes at the US state level in 2017. Amazon's popular subscription programme Prime drives a significant amount of sales for the company and third-party sellers being asked to list their products would mean strengthening the selection available for these paying customers.

"Common sense suggests USPS needs Amazon more than Amazon needs USPS", Stifel analysts wrote in a research report this week.

Ironically, Trump's signature legislative achievement, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and gave Amazon a $789 million windfall in 2017.




The other prong to Trump's criticism concerns the U.S. Postal Service.

"With Facebook and regulatory worries, the last thing nervous tech investors wanted to see was news that Trump is targeting Bezos and Amazon over the coming months as this remains a lingering cloud over the stock and heightens the risk profile in the eyes of the Street", GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives said.

Amazon does in fact collect sales tax on its direct sales in every state that has one, but it may not be collecting local, municipal sales taxes. The Post Office lost $2.7 billion a year ago, but "Shipping and packages were a rare bright spot for USPS in 2017, one of two sub-categories of mail for which revenue increased, rather than declined", according to Quartz.

The Postal Service declined to comment on Trump's tweet.

Amazon could hurt the postal service - and other package companies - if it successfully shifts more of its delivery to its own delivery network, which it's been slowly building out over the past few years.

"The growth in our Shipping and Packages business provided some help to the financial picture of the Postal Service as revenue increased $2.1 billion, or 11.8 percent", USPS said in a press release.

There has been talk in Washington of taxing online commerce more. "I don't think it can be stopped but I don't think he can target one company".

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