US President Donald Trump today slammed Amazon for paying "no taxes" to state and local governments as reports emerged that he is seeking tougher regulations against the Seattle-based company, which now has a global presence, including in India.
According to Axios, Mr Trump has discussed changing Amazon's tax treatment and has wondered aloud if it might be possible to take a case against Amazon under competition law.
"If Mr. Trump's point was that Amazon did not collect sales taxes - which are owed by the purchaser and collected by the retailer - it is true that the company once avoided doing so". Sellers on the marketplace determine whether they collect taxes on sales or not.
The Postal Service could charge Amazon higher rates, but first, Trump would need more appointees on the Postal Regulatory Commission, which lacks a quorum.
The service has a decade-long string of fiscal net losses, which has led to more than $120 billion in unfunded liabilities, mostly retirement health and pension benefits.
Amazon is one of the biggest companies in the world, and its financials are fair game for critics, but Trump's distortions don't add up and are worthy of Three Pinocchios. Historically, 'there is no doubt that Amazon used its ability to not collect sales tax to gain a competitive advantage'. But what measures can he actually take against the online retail giant?
In another financial report a year ago, USPS said growth in its package business was "a result of our successful efforts to compete in the ground shipping services and "last mile" e-commerce fulfillment markets, including Sunday delivery".
As a result of Trumps tweet, the shares of Amazon dropped in the market by nine per cent. "They pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!" he tweeted. In December, the president denounced the agency on Twitter for losing billions of dollars when it could be "charging MUCH MORE" to Amazon and other shippers.
The reality, however, is that Amazon has little to do with why USPS has been bleeding red ink.
But White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said no specific policies were on the table in regards to Amazon.
"Though imperfect, the deal is mutually beneficial", said the The Wall Street Journal editorial board.
"The growth in our Shipping and Packages business provided some help to the financial picture of the Postal Service as revenue increased $2.1 billion, or 11.8 percent", USPS said in a press release. But there are other factors, such as high debt, and Amazon is not exclusively responsible.
The official said Trump links this to Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos' private ownership of the Washington Post, which he has called "fake news" and effectively a mouthpiece for Bezos' business interests. Toys R Us and other retailers that have filed for bankruptcy or gone out of business have said that Amazon's low prices were hard to compete with. On Feb. 15, speaking at a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin said he had spoken personally with Trump about online taxation, and that the president "does feel strongly" that sales tax should be applied to internet purchases.
The company - or more specifically its CEO Jeff Bezos - is a frequent target of the president. "It's really about policy".