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The problem with Trump's claim about Amazon and the US Postal Service
02 April 2018, 11:25 | Gordon Grant
Trump loads another tweet into the chamber — and fires on Amazon again
President Donald Trump, in his crusade against tech behemoth Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos this week took another jab at "their Delivery Boy", the United States Postal Service.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a TV interview Thursday that Trump's tweets are not about Bezos, but that mom-and-pop shops and brick-and-mortar stores are having trouble competing with fast-growing Amazon.
Cloudtail, appointed a senior Amazon executive Sumit Sahay as its CEO past year, is the most important seller for Amazon in India and the company relies heavily on it to push top selling categories.
The retailer does pay taxes, both state and local, where it's required to do so-though it's true to say that it didn't always.
Amazon did not initially collect state sales taxes when it began selling books online in 1995.
"There's a lot of things where the federal government can do real damage to any business, and that's precisely why we don't want the president to attack individual companies, certainly not for political reasons", said Stan Veuger, an expert on politics and finance at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
In a 2017 statement, Amazon said that its partnership with the Postal Service was "reviewed annually by the Postal Regulatory Commission", which found its contracts to be profitable.
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"If I become president, oh do they have problems", Trump said at a campaign stop in 2016. The development comes at a time when the local arm of the Seattle-based company has been faced with issues from several of the third-party sellers, especially the ones who do not use the e-commerce major's Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) service.
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The online retailer has been continuously adding products which are ready to be shipped for next day or two day deliveries.
As for the Postal Service, it has lost money for years, but online shopping has led to growth in its package-delivery business.
With this, the Amazon shares fell about 4.4 percent on Wednesday.
Trump is no fan of Amazon, and he often broadcasts this on Twitter. "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!" he tweeted.
"If there is a law that regulates how you tax third-party sellers, it's going to apply to everyone and Amazon's position will remain the same", said Steve Chiavarone, a portfolio manager at Federated Investors.
The reality, however, is that Amazon has little to do with why USPS has been bleeding red ink.
"During the previous five years, Amazon reported US profits of $8.2 billion and paid an effective federal income tax rate of just 11.4 percent", wrote Matthew Gardner, an ITEP senior fellow. "So has Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, Kroger and any other superstore that took share from small businesses". On Feb. 15, speaking at a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin said he had spoken personally with Trump about online taxation, and that the president "does feel strongly" that sales tax should be applied to internet purchases.
Trump has a long history of animosity toward Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, and the president previously has aired these complaints. "It's really about policy".
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