Industry group calls for tougher tax for online retailers

Industry group Retail Excellence has echoed calls in the UK to slap higher rates of tax on big-name online retailers in a bid to protect footfall on the high street.

The British Parliament's housing, communities and local government committee has called on the likes of Amazon, Asos and Boohoo to be charged higher taxes in the UK to ease the burden on high street shops losing revenue to e-commerce. The committee has called for an online sales tax, higher Vat and 'green' taxes on shipping and packaging to be introduced to protect traditional retailers.

With an estimated 84% of Irish consumers expected to be shopping online by 2021, Retail Excellence has echoed the UK committee's call.

"While evidence suggests that customer transition from bricks and mortar shops to online retail so far hasn’t been as pronounced in Ireland as in the UK, the issue of Irish retailers competing with non-EU, non-tax compliant, cheap imports is probably the single biggest concern for Irish retailers, after Brexit worries," said Retail Excellence's head of public policy Bryan Rankin.

"Of the €850,000 spent in online transactions every single hour right now in Ireland, two-thirds of this figure is conducted by businesses outside the State. That translates to €1.2bn annually in lost Vat receipts to the exchequer.

"Retail Excellence has consistently campaigned for Government to take the bull by the horns and create a level playing field for Irish retailers competing with non-EU imports who for the most part are not registered for Vat in Ireland. The obvious place to start is with the online marketplaces, such as Amazon, who effectively facilitate this practice. We believe that online marketplaces need to be made responsible for the collection of taxes if they intend to allow their advertisers sell on their platforms, it’s the only feasible, sustainable solution," Mr Rankin said.

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