Online retailers “must pay more tax”, Bira warns

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has urged the government to relieve pressure on the high street by raising taxes on online retailers.

The trade organisation argued that the revenue should pay for a reduction in business rates, a tax paid by companies that occupy property.

The comments were made at a meeting with the Small Business minister Paul Scully last week.

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“Large online retailer[s] must pay more tax, or other parts of the tax system could be used to replace the reduced income from business rates,” Bira chief executive Andrew Goodacre said. 

“This pandemic has shown that business rates have to be significantly reduced if independent retailers are to re-build their business.” 

Under the government’s current plans, all retailers are exempt from business rates until the end of June, and will pay at a two-thirds discount until 31 March 2022. 

Bira also encouraged Scully to extend the ban on landlords taking legal action against tenants unable to pay rent beyond 30 June. 

Figures from the organisation show that around three in 10 retailers have built up rental debt, and a similar number of landlords are not willing to negotiate. 

“It would be an absolute tragedy if retailers faced forced closure due to legal action just as they’re re-building their business,” Goodacre said. 

The news comes after the Association of Convenience Stores warned the government that a return to normal business rates would hurt retail investment. 

Finance

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