Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MPs Push for New Online Sales Tax to 'Level Playing Field'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

MPs Push for New Online Sales Tax to 'Level Playing Field'

Article excerpt

Byline: JOSIE CLARKE Business writer business@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE Government should urgently consider an online sales tax to help secure the future of the high street, MPs have urged.

Dated policies and an unfair tax regime must be reformed to create an environment that will allow high streets and town centres to flourish in the future, a report published by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee (HCLG) has found.

The committee's report was compiled after hearing from Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley, who called for a tax for any company that had more than 20% of its sales online, saying it would encourage companies like his to prioritise getting people back into their stores.

The committee said business rates are stacking the odds against high street retailers, with Amazon's bill amounting to around 0.7% of its UK turnover while bricks-and-mortar stores pay between 1.5% and 6.5%.

It said the Government needs to go "further and faster" to "level the playing field" by considering a sales tax, an increase in VAT, an online sales tax, and "green taxes" on deliveries and packaging, adding that each of the proposals had the potential for "real change" without a complete overhaul of business tax.

However MPs also said high street retailers must accept they need to adapt and do more to offer what online cannot, focusing more on personal interactions and convenience.

Local authorities must also "get to grips with the fact that their town centres need to change" and create areas that are the "intersection of human life and activity", the HCLG report concludes.

With online sales currently at 20% and set to grow, the future for high streets and town centres is "increasingly bleak" with some formerly thriving shopping areas likely to become ghost towns unless the Government, councils, retailers, landlords and the local community act together to implement the recommendations, it warns. …

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