The UK government have published an early-stage consultation, exploring the arguments for and against an Online Sales Tax (OST). The consultation will run until the 20th of May 2022.
The consultation was committed to at Autumn Budget as part of the government’s conclusion to its review of business rates, where stakeholders, including some of the UK’s most well-known high street businesses, called for an Online Sales Tax to help rebalance the tax system through funding a reduction in business rates for the retail sector.
We want to see thriving high streets and a fair economy as we move forward from the pandemic, which is why our business rates review cut the burden by £7 billion for businesses, and committed to look at an Online Sales Tax – given the imbalance identified by some between online and in-store retailers
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
This is important as it will impact all of retail – online and offline, and potentially could involve a percentage tax on all of your online sales or a per item tax on outgoing shipments. Either way, the suggestion is to decrease business rates and shift the tax revenue to remote sales via OST.
It is possible at this stage that to mitigate the impact and burden on small businesses that marketplaces could be responsible for collecting the tax, but whether you have to administrate the tax or if marketplaces do it on your behalf, OST will impact your business and make your goods more expensive to purchase.
Potential loopholes are already emerging and doubtless large retailers will be lobbying to exclude things such as Click & Collect and remote sales via telephone compared to online orders. They’ll be arguing that fulfilling an order from a physical local store should be treated differently to orders fulfilled from central warehouses claiming that they have to pay Business Rates to store the goods locally. A lot of horsetrading is about to take place but you too can have your say.
You can read the consultation document here and you can submit your views here.
What a great idea! Prop up the declining high street with its high prices, parking restrictions, etc, etc. by taxing the growing online industry.
While you are at it, please can you tax these new-fangled electric cars and then subsidise my 5 litre 4×4, as it is getting too expensive to run.
Terrible idea and will push more small sellers out of business and into poverty.
But that’s what the government seems to want – the return of serfdom. We can’t survive another 12 years of Toryism.
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