When the government proposed the Digital Services Tax, Rishi Sunak and other Treasury ministers emphasised that
“The Digital Services Tax will apply to a group’s businesses that provide a social media service, search engine or an online marketplace to UK users. These businesses will be liable to Digital Services Tax when the group’s worldwide revenues from these digital activities are more than £500 million and more than £25 million of these revenues are derived from UK users.”
They stressed to Parliament that British small businesses would be exempt, that only the big bad (American) tech behemoths would be liable, and that it would raise £2 billion from the likes of Amazon, Google, and Facebook who would otherwise avoid being taxed. Guido pointed out that, in the end, people pay taxes. Ultimately, it’ll be the customers – us – who end up footing the bill.
This was meant in a theoretical sense; that costs would eventually be passed on, through raised prices, to maintain the same returns for the corporations. Amazon saw it in a practical sense and ruthlessly whacked it straight on to the bills of customers. British businesses, who rely on goods being shipped by Amazon, now have to fork out for the rise, with the government not getting a penny from Amazon – just their British customers. The message was clear: your government did this to you. Today, Google have emailed customers saying they will do likewise.
Neither Amazon nor Google are paying the tax, the small British businesses that ship goods on Amazon that they advertise via Google are getting clobbered by it. These businesses will have to put up prices to customers as a result. Thanks a lot Rishi…