Online Sales Tax still on the BRC table

brc home 2It’s been several weeks since Tamebay first reported that an online sales tax was going to be proposed to government by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The BRC were quick to point out to us that they had suggested no such thing but were rather, over the course of the summer, consulting with their members about different ways to give the High Street chains they represent a boost.

The Director General of the BRC Helen Dickinson said last week in Retail Week: “we need to home in on the questions specific to the retail industry. And the first and most fundamental of these is asking how a tax system developed hundreds of years ago can be brought into line with the vast, dynamic and ever-evolving sector of the 21st century.”

Dickinson continues: “Keeping pace with viewpoints and the relationship between the fast-developing retail landscape and the tax regime is a top priority for the BRC – we want to consider carefully how the system can best meet the interests of consumers, economic growth, stability and the industry as a whole over the longer term.”

It’s notable, I think, that in her comments she doesn’t mention the internet, online sales or the huge rise of ecommerce at all. But we know what she’s talking about.

In my recent exchanges with the BRC, I’ve tried to get to the bottom of what might be on the cards with little success. However, I was told quite explicitly that an online sales tax had not been ruled out. The BRC could also not tell Tamebay exactly who would be at their talks and provided no details about the exact terms of the discussion.

On one hand, an organisation such as the BRC would be quite perverse to propose an online sales tax. And yet the BRC have not yet ruled out such a measure. Many of its members have significant online sales and some are pure-play ecommerce retailers. I also can’t help thinking that this government would never even consider such a move because it’s so utterly anti-business.

But stranger things have happened. We know what BRC member Sainsbury’s has to say about the matter, so some old-fashioned retailers are thinking about an online sales tax seriously. At Tamebay we maintain a watching brief and await our invitation (on your behalf) to the BRC discussions.