Trump Brings Amazon Internet Tax Issues Back Into Spotlight

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump brought Internet taxes into the spotlight Friday after a television interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity.

Trump said that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, uses the newspaper to influence politicians, keeping taxes low for his company.

"[Bezos] bought the paper for practically nothing, and he's using it as a tool for political power against me and other people," Trump said.

"He's using The Washington Post … for political purchase to save Amazon in terms of taxes and in terms of antitrust."

Piper Jaffray analysts Gene Munster and Samuel Kemp published a research note Friday on why they do not believe Trump "poses any threat to Amazon," based on anti-trust and corporate sales tax issues.



The two analysts think it's unlikely that Trump could have an impact on Amazon or that his comments will incite regulatory changes in any way.

"We believe that Trump's comments are a positioning strategy, as the Bezos-owned Washington Post dedicates 20 journalists for its study on Trump's life and, separately, as [an] olive branch toward liberals on the subject of corporate regulation," per the research note.

"If Trump becomes President, we do not believe presidential authority or influence would over-ride the reality that Amazon's market share does not trigger anti-trust thresholds and that the company employs a legal tax structure domestically and internationally."

Piper Jaffray analysts wrote that Trump's comments may refer to either sales tax collection or corporate tax structures that shield Amazon from certain tax liabilities.

Amazon already collects sales tax in 28 U.S states, accounting for about 85% of the population. The remaining states are governed by laws not mandating that marketplaces collect sales tax on behalf of sellers on their platforms and/or are still governed under the 1992 Quill Corp v. North Dakota Supreme Court ruling.

That set a precedent that states may not impose or enforce sales tax collection requirements for businesses that have no physical location in that state, the research note explains.

"We continue to believe that Amazon's international tax structure [corporate tax policy], while under continued scrutiny and subject to change by international policy changes, is legal," per the research note. "Amazon's tax structure has been scrutinized by US authorities over the years, but without material consequences as these inquiries appear to have died out or come up empty."

1 comment about "Trump Brings Amazon Internet Tax Issues Back Into Spotlight".
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  1. Brian Nakamoto from Tightrope Interactive, Inc., May 16, 2016 at 4:20 p.m.

    Trump stated in the same interview that he proposes to lower business taxes, but then goes on to say: "Amazon is getting away with murder tax-wise. He's using The Washington Post for power so that the politicians in Washington don't tax Amazon like they should be taxed."

    Amazon complies with tax laws. Thus, it would seem that Trump proposes to ask Congress to raise some business taxes in order to "tax Amazon like they should be taxed" or expand the IRS so they can audit more businesses suspected of "getting away with murder tax-wise." He might be able to do the latter without Congress via the DOJ.

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