Top retail bosses will meet with a Treasury minister later this week with the hopes of reigniting government interest in launching an online sales tax and reforming the current rates system.
According to a report by Sky News, executives from retail powerhouses including Amazon, Asda, ASOS, Currys and JustEat Takeaway, are to meet with the Treasury’s financial secretary Lucy Frazer.
At a meeting on Wednesday, bosses will underline previous calls for a dramatic reshaping of the business rates regime – which some have said unfairly tax bricks-and-mortar businesses.
However, a mix of views among online and physical retailers has led to concerns among backers of a tax on e-commerce heavyweight that ministers may drop the idea.
Sainsbury’s finance director has called for digital retailers to be taxed more in order to finance slashing rates faced by bricks-and-mortar shops while M&S has said innovative retailers should not be punished for adapting to shopping trends.
However, many retailers are keen to see a root and branch review of the business rates system, with a new Retail Jobs Alliance (RJA) keen to see the playing field levelled between operators.
A months-long Treasury consultation into the possibility of an online sales tax closed last week.
“Whilst we’ve made no decision on whether to introduce such a tax, it’s right that, given the growing consumer trend to shop online, we work with stakeholders to assess the appropriate taxation of the retail sector”, Lucy Frazer, financial secretary to the Treasury, said when the consultation launched in February.
Speaking to CityA.M. earlier this month, retail titan Theo Paphitis echoed calls for an overhaul of the system.
Anyone with “half an ounce of brain power” would see the lack of sense in “putting the burden of taxation onto the poor humble shopkeeper on the high street,” as opposed to taxing e-commerce heavyweights more, Paphitis said.