eBay UK VP calls for International Corporate Taxation reform

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The debate about fair corporate taxation has been ongoing and today eBay UK Vice President Rob Hattrell has had a letter published in The Times calling for reform of Business Taxes in a fair and balanced manner.

Rob points out the disparity between corporate taxation for online and offline businesses and points out that many businesses have both and online and an offline presence. Indeed, we’ve seen many independent businesses over the years pull out of their high street shops due to the burden of tax and Rates.

Rob calls for an international corporate taxation solution, rather than national measures in individual countries, joining the calls of bricks and mortar retailers in calling for an overhaul of businesses rates, whilst recognising the need to “tech to pay its fair share”. In his letter to The Times, published this morning (reproduced below), Rob outlines eBay’s views on reforming business rates to ease the burden on small businesses in particular, 300,000 of which trade on eBay in the UK.

TO THE EDITOR, The Times – 08.03.20
Dear Sir,
For too long, the debate about the future of Britain’s high streets has focused on a false choice: online v offline.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the debate around tax.
We recognise that the rules around corporate taxation need urgent reform and tech needs to pay its fair share.
The debate is no longer about whether this should happen. It is about the best way of achieving this.
We believe this can be best done through an international OECD solution, rather than a patchwork of national measures.
We also strongly support the efforts of the CBI, BRC, FSB and others to persuade the Government to reduce the business rates burden on their members, by re-evaluating the out-dated methodologies of the business rates system.
But it is vital that the Government focuses those reforms on alleviating the burden on small enterprises to help them grow their businesses.
Over 300,000 UK businesses use our site every day to reach new overseas markets, and almost half of them (47%) have a physical presence. All the evidence shows that their online sales can support offline sales and vice versa. The choice is no longer between online and offline. We need both.
This isn’t just in the interests of high street retailers. It’s in all our interests. As a country, we only succeed if we harness the entrepreneurialism of all small and medium-sized British businesses – online and offline.
They are agile, creative and entrepreneurial; they are the backbone of our business community. We only succeed at eBay when they do and we believe passionately they deserve the best we can give them.

Yours sincerely,
Rob Hattrell
Vice President, eBay UK

11 Responses

  1. Rob hasn’t listened to BoJo’s “f*ck business” probably. Also hasn’t listened to eBay sellers whom he glorifies so much in this “article”. Yes eBay, without sellers you’re nothing so better be “passionate” about those sellers!

  2. “Over 300,000 UK businesses use our site every day to reach new overseas markets…”

    Good luck finding them amongst the millions of identikit listings from Chinese sellers, lying that the item is located in the UK, so they can appear in the same search results.

    Concentrate on sorting that out, VP Rob. You’ve more chance of solving that than the problems of international tax. It’s something you could do easily and quickly, and would restore the site to some of it’s former glory.

  3. @Rob Hattrell you had better stop hiding my listings if you want me to succeed on your platform. You take over 10% of my turnover and I’m not going to pay you anymore in promotional fees so my stuff stands out from the Chinese tat and VAT fraudsters. When I have a problem you push me through to an offshore call centre where with respect your employees can hardly speak English, let alone help me.
    I think you will find that your sellers (yes your customers) are not as enthusiastic about your platform as you claim to be of us, but I’m sure your merchant figures will bear that out over the coming months.
    And again, we would like a site that works and functions correctly before you get involved with the complex affairs of international taxation.

  4. Hmmmm if maybe the likes of eBay Amazon Facebook etc had not been avoiding paying tax on an industrial scale in all the countries they make their vast profits from and which has allowed them to compete on a different playing field putting hundreds of thousands of businesses out of business in the first place.
    Yes international corporation is needed to make the likes of eBay pay in the countries they profit from, hence taking the burden of domestic business and all these small businesses eBay like to take credit for.

    However in the current climate of nationalism and populism (helped by the inequality brought on in some part to all the above)…it will not happen.

  5. So he preaches on government ripping off small businesses…while his employer rips off small businesses!
    I love the irony of it!

  6. All starting to sound a bit like this !

    FRANCIS: Yeah. Thank you, Reg. Well, quite frankly, siblings, I think five years is optimistic, unless we can smash the Amazon empire within the next twelve months.

    REG: Twelve months?

    FRANCIS: Yeah, twelve months. And, let’s face it. As empires go, this is the big one, so we’ve got to get up off our arses and stop just talking about it!

    COMMANDOS: Hear! Hear!

    LORETTA: I agree. It’s action that counts, not words, and we need action now.

    COMMANDOS: Hear! Hear!

    REG: You’re right. We could sit around here all day talking, passing resolutions, making clever speeches.

    FRANCIS: So, let’s just stop gabbing on about it. It’s completely pointless and it’s getting us nowhere!

    COMMANDOS: Right!

    LORETTA: I agree. This is a complete waste of time.

  7. Some small minded comments here – eBay ripping you off? Customer service overseas?

    Ok – we all admit eBay is far from perfect, but who else is putting your products in front of millions of buyers for 10%? Cant thousands of companies be criticised for the exact same two things… sad state of affairs but corporations have outsourced CS for decades.

    Overall, eBay issues aside (yes, there are lots of them), what he is saying is correct.

    For too long purely online retailers like myself have been blamed for single handedly killing B&M retail – ignoring the change in consumer trends and very importantly Grocers/out of town retail parks.

    Its about time we had somebody on our side. I face my suppliers increasing my costs (I’m online only) in a bid to protect B&M retailers, as if the internet is just going to go away in a few years time.

    So, whilst I dont agree with a lot of decisions Rob has made in eBay I am all for raising awareness to level the playing field for small enterprise – regardless of where they do their business.

  8. World smallest violin plays for Ebay !

    They seemed to like watching uk businesses get destroyed. On that basis I’d day the tax isn’t enough.l


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