As we're all aware there's a campaign going on to tax physical retailers more lightly, to tax the internet ones more heavily. This is dressed up as being levelling the playing field, the reality is that the High Street landlords would prefer business rates to make less of a dent in the rent they can charge. It's purely a special interest pleading that is.
Not even all High Street retailers agree with it:
The chairman of John Lewis has rejected growing calls for online retailers to be hit with a so-called “Amazon tax”, instead urging traditional players to adapt more quickly.
Sir Charlie Mayfield said he “struggled” with the belief that internet companies should be penalised because they have managed to carve out a leaner business model.
Quite so, Internet retailing is using less of that scarce resource that is high footfall retail space. Quite why they should be taxed more because of this is unknown. Unless, obviously, you're a landlord watching your rents go down.
After all, if a new technology means you need less steel to build a car - something that's been happening for decades now - we don't then insist that you should pay more tax because you're using less steel, do we?
Further, our entire aim in this economy of ours is that all business models become leaner over time. That's how we advance, by being able to produce the things we desire while using fewer resources to do so. That meaning that we've now the resources to do new and extra things - we're richer in short.
Business rates reform in the face of internet retailing isn't in fact about retailing at all, it's about landlords and their rents. Let's not forget that while this campaign continues.