Britain considering a special tax to help local online retailers

Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images

Amazon’s European headquarters, in the Clausen Valley in Luxembourg.

The U.K. government is thinking about introducing a so-called “Amazon tax” to support struggling online retailers, Finance Minister Philip Hammond said in an interview with Sky News on Friday.

In Britain’s strongest intervention yet on the issue, Hammond told Sky News the U.K. wanted to ensure taxation was fair for retail companies doing business the “traditional” way as well as for those conducting business online.

“If we can’t get international agreement to do this we may have to look at temporary tax measures to rebalance the playing field until we can get international agreements,” Hammond said.

When asked specifically which kinds of measures, he replied: “The EU has been talking about a tax on online platform businesses based on value generated … That’s certainly something we’d be prepared to consider.”

Hammond’s comments come as department store House of Fraser was placed in administration on Friday, shortly before being bought by retailer Sports Direct for $115 million.

Earlier on Friday, Amazon faced intense criticism after it emerged the tech giant paid less corporation tax in the U.K. in 2017 than it did the previous year. Amazon refused to comment when contacted by CNBC Friday afternoon.

Read the full Sky News report here.

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