Trump tweet goes after a favorite target, Amazon

02 April, 2018, 00:44 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • Ruckar Here are 5 Amazon deals you can steal before Easter Here are 5 Amazon deals you can ste

Do his criticisms ring true?

A Supreme Court ruling favouring South Dakota could funnel up to $13 billion (£9.3 billion) annually of new tax revenues into the coffers of affected US states, according to a 2017 federal government report. In 2017, the company noted the Postal Regulatory Commission "has consistently found that Amazon's contracts with the USPS are profitable", The Washington Post's Brian Fung reported.

That's translated to more packages and package-related revenue, in part thanks to Amazon. The most recent year's losses of $2.7 billion are down from more than $5 billion in each of the prior two fiscal years. Package volume expanded by 111 million pieces, or 7%, during the first quarter, and the agency said it "continues to grow its package business". Trump has this backwards: Amazon supports a law requiring all online retailers to collect those taxes (though probably out of self-interest - the law would provide a barrier to potential challengers).

President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with technology industry leaders at Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. An Amazon spokesperson said the company does not comment on a seller's behalf while the e-mail sent to Cloudtail CEO Sahay did not elicit any response on this matter.

In another financial report previous year, USPS said growth in its package business was "a result of our successful efforts to compete in the ground shipping services and "last mile" e-commerce fulfillment markets, including Sunday delivery".

But with that network in its early stages, it's a paying customer of the post office.

The furor arose after news website Axios published a story Wednesday, citing five unnamed sources who said Trump is considering whether to change Amazon's tax treatment because of the impact the online giant has had on smaller retailers. Shares (AMZN) dropped 4%, but they rebounded Thursday.

On Thursday, Trump tweeted about the internet giant again, saying "I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election".

Given that independent review, it's highly questionable that Amazon's deal with USPS actually causes "tremendous loss to the U.S." as Trump claims, but it is conceivable that the U.S. Postal Service could be making more money from Amazon if it were to charge more.

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Amazon has been criticized for attempting to skirt state sales taxes, but since April a year ago it has voluntarily collected state sales tax on items it sells direct to customers in all 45 states that have one.

Amazon has undoubtedly contributed to the closure of many brick-and-mortar stores and the bankruptcy of some chains as more people shop online instead of in malls.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has twice spoken for the administration on the issue, suggesting e-retailers should collect and remit sales and use tax on all purchases. Historically, 'there is no doubt that Amazon used its ability to not collect sales tax to gain a competitive advantage'.

Cloudtail, the largest seller entity on Amazon, is asking third party sellers to list their products through it and align with the entity, merchants aware of the matter said.

Amazon is not involved in the case but the eventual ruling could have consequences for the online retailing behemoth and other e-commerce businesses.

"Amazon for many years reinvested all its profits into expansion, with the result that it paid little or no taxes because taxes are calculated based on profits", said Joseph Bishop-Henchman, executive vice president of the Tax Foundation.

But he also said, "We're not laying out specific policies".

Amazon so far hasn't taken the bait, declining to comment publicly on Trump's latest tweet. "Towns, cities and states throughout the US are being hurt - many jobs being lost!"


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