Council Motion: A Tax on Excess Online Profits

Many of us will be hoping that our high streets come through the lockdown period and can prosper – particularly those independent businesses that have been so impacted by previous restrictions. However, the pandemic has highlighted disparities in how businesses which may share high street space can continue to trade online.

While online trading is a perfectly valid form of business, if we do not address the unfair disparity, we risk losing smaller and independent brands. This motions look specifically at how fair taxation of online profits could be tackled.

Motion – A Tax on Excess Online Profits

Council notes that whilst smaller High Street non-food retail outlets were forcibly closed, and some are facing business failure, because of the COVID-19 lockdown, larger national businesses and multi-national businesses offering on-line products have thrived, reporting bumper profits.

Council notes that recent proposals from the UN and the EU are working to establish an international consensus on business taxation, to minimise profit-shifting for the purpose of avoiding corporation tax, but that these proposals are not likely to be introduced in time to have any impact on the excess online profits that some companies have made off the back of the coronavirus epidemic.

Raising a bespoke tax on excess online profits has precedent in the UK, and Council expresses its disappointment that the Chancellor has not yet introduced such a tax and believes that if we are, as the Prime Minister claims, ‘all in this together’, then the excessive profits of such on-line businesses should be subjected to a fair level of tax, and that the revenue raised employed to support our hollowed out public services (local government, schools and health) and the financial recovery of our high street retailers.

Council resolves to ask the Chief Executive to write to:

  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, urging him to introduce such a tax as one means to ensure that we are ‘all in this together’.
  • Our local MPs and the [AREA] Mayor to seek their support for such a tax.

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