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Almost all retailers in UK back online sales tax: survey

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89% of UK retailers surveyed earlier this month say that they back the introduction of an online sales tax to level the playing field and reduce the pressure on physical retailers of business rates.

The snap survey by Colliers comes as the UK government’s consultation on the introduction of an online sales tax nears its conclusion on 20 May.

According to the survey, 71% of retailers that already use online are in favour, while 100% of those that have no online presence back the tax. The tax is also supported by 98% of retail landlords and investors.

Opinions, however, are divided on Click and Collect, with a 54 to 46 split on whether this too should come under the auspices of such a tax.

Some 70% said that essential items should either be exempt or pay a lower rate, while 66% said that smaller retailers should also see a reduced rate. 55% saw a case for lower or no rates for web-based apps used in store and 52% for digital products.

John Webber, head of business rates at Colliers, said: “Although our survey is a snapshot of our retail clients it does throw up some interesting pointers. It certainly seems there is overwhelming support to bring in some sort of online sales tax to try and level the playing field and take the full burden of business rates off bricks and mortar retailers.

“It is only right that we should try and re-balance the system and create a fairer playing field for all. But it is also essential any monies raised by an online tax is used directly to alleviate the high business rates burden and does not go into a government black hole.”

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