Regressive, ineffective and unnecessary – an online sales tax is no way to help the high street

The government has published a consultation on the potential introduction of an Online Sales Tax (OST) and while some businesses and campaigners believe such a move could help protect Britain’s high streets, the case for an OST is only “superficially attractive”.

Writing for CapX, Elizabeth Dunkley, researcher at the Centre for Policy Studies, argues that the nature of retail in the UK today means it “doesn’t make sense” to draw a line between in-person, ‘high street’ shopping and purchases made online. Much of the sector is hybrid and individual businesses often serve customers online and in-store. Instead, she writes, supporters of an OST should focus on the prohibitive business rates burden, improvements to town centres, and increased parking availability as ways to support high streets without penalising businesses operating online.

The latest report from the CPS found the introduction of an OST could cost the average household as much as £175 per year.

Read the full piece here.

Date Added: Tuesday 21st June 2022