Philip Hammond, the British Chancellor, has said that he is considering a so-called “Amazon Tax,” a new tax that may be imposed for online businesses, as a recognition of the challenges that are faced by high street retailers.
In an interview with Sky News, Hammond said that he believed that “more and more of us are buying online. Indeed, Britain has the biggest percentage of online shopping of any major developed economy. That means the high street will change.”
He added: “We’re very clear that you have to support the high street through that process of change.
He continued: “The nature of the offer on the high street is going to change over time. There’s going to be less retail, more leisure, bars, community facilities.”
Even though he has avoided committing to a change of business rates, the British chancellor said that the government aims to “ensure that taxation is fair between businesses doing business the traditional way and those doing business online.”
He added: “That requires us to renegotiate international tax treaties because many of the big online businesses are international companies.”
He continued: “If we can’t get international agreement to do this we may have to look at temporary tax measures to rebalance the playing field until we can get international agreements.”
When asked about the specifics, he stated: “The EU has been talking about a tax on online platform businesses based on value generated.”
Hammond added: “That’s certainly something we’d be prepared to consider.”
The British Chancellor was speaking shortly after House of Fraser was acquired out of administration by Mike Ashley, a retail tycoon, for only £90 million – a fraction of the price that Sanpower, a Chinese conglomerate, paid for the company four years ago.
This year has observed various high street casualties, such as Toys R Us, East, and Maplin.