President Trump attacked Amazon in a tweet published Thursday morning.
“I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election,” the tweet reads. “Unlike others, 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!”
The tweet came one day after Axios reported that sources close to Trump said he’s “obsessed with Amazon.” Amazon shares dipped after the report, and after Thursday’s tweet.
Trump, according to the Axios report, has been talking about “changing Amazon’s tax treatment because he’s worried about mom-and-pop retailers being put out of business.” The president thinks Amazon gets a “free ride” from taxpayers, and his wealthy real estate friends tell him that the online retailer is killing their shopping malls and other brick-and-mortar businesses, which affronts Trump’s “old-school businessman” ethos that “sees the world in terms of tangible assets: real estate, physical mail delivery, Main Street, grocery stores.”
What the president is most likely criticizing is how Amazon often doesn’t have to collect sales tax when customers buy products from third-party sellers that operate on its website. Some think this gives Amazon an unfair advantage. What’s more, states and municipalities stand to gain between $8 and $13 billion in annual revenue if they required online retailers to collect sales tax, regardless of whether they have a physical presence in the state of sale, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos speaking at the ‘Transformers: Pushing the Boundaries of Knowledge,’ event May 18, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty)
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on April 17 in a case that could reverse a 1992 decision which states that retailers not based in the state of sale don’t have to collect that state’s sales tax.
The president also thinks Amazon gets “cushy treatment” from the U.S. Postal Service. It’s a view he expressed in a tweet last December.
Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017
Vox published a piece in response to the tweet outlining how the USPS’s parcel services, the part of the agency that ships Amazon packages, are “doing okay”and that the USPS loses billions of dollars each year mainly because of declining revenue from first-class mail and high labor costs.
“The whole post office thing, that’s very much a perception he has,” a source told Axios. “It’s been explained to him in multiple meetings that his perception is inaccurate and that the post office actually makes a ton of money from Amazon.”
Trump and Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, have locked horns several times in recent years. In 2015, Trump tweeted “The @washingtonpost, which loses a fortune, is owned by @JeffBezos for purposes of keeping taxes down at his no profit company, @amazon.”