BRITS shopping online could be forced to pay more after plans for a new tax were revealed.
The UK government is planning a tax on online retailers in a bid to help save the embattled UK High Street.
It hopes the tax would create a level playing field for town centre chains struggling to cope with soaring rents and business rates.
The Chancellor today dropped his biggest hint yet of hitting online giants with a new levy after House of Fraser was saved from administration.
Just hours after the major department store chain was rescued by Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, Philip Hammond said he was “considering” the tax.
He said: “We want to ensure the high street remains resilient and that taxation is fair between businesses doing business the traditional way and those doing business online.
“That requires us to renegotiate international tax treaties, because many of the big online businesses are international companies.
“The European Union has been talking about a tax on online platforms businesses based on value generated.
“That’s certainly something we’d be prepared to consider.”
But experts have warned that if a new tax is imposed, consumers could end up paying more online.
John O’Connell, CEO of the Taxpayer’s Alliance, said: “It would be wrong to introduce new taxes when the current tax burden is already at a 49-year high and growth is sluggish.
“What’s more, the notion of a level playing field is merely a fig leaf, as a new Tech Tax would actually just make products more expensive for hard pressed families who rely on cheaper deals online. Why should people buying online have to pay both VAT and a special online tax?”
And Jessica Melugin, the associate director of the Center for Technology & Innovation at the Competitive Enterprise Institute said earlier this year: “The problem with Internet sales taxes is that they’re anti-competitive and would likely be experienced as a tax hike on consumers.”
Before House of Fraser was bought out of administration by the Newcastle United owner Mr Ashley, it was reported the chain’s rent bill for its Oxford Street store was around £1million a week alone.
The jaw dropping figure highlighted the embattled retailer’s struggles as costs for bricks and mortar retailers continue to leap.