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Iceland MD calls for digital sales tax

Malcolm Walker, the frozen food supermarket chain’s managing director, believes a tax on online sales may potentially form part of an overhaul of ‘outdated and Victorian’ business rates

The boss of Iceland is calling for a digital sales tax to support the British high street’s economic recovery post-lockdown.

Malcolm Walker, managing director of the group, believes a tax on online sales could potentially become part of an overhaul of current business rates, which he refers to as “outdated and Victorian”.

Furthermore, the frozen food supermarket chain’s head defended the decision of certain retailers to maintain business rates relief.

Iceland was criticised over its decision to keep hold of business rates relief for the past financial year, despite being able to trade during the pandemic.

Speaking to PA News Agency, Walker said: “I think we need a digital sales tax and I say that with a business with a really strong online business.

“You need to completely change business rates as they are, but there also has to be some form of rebalancing with online because otherwise we will be killing off the high street as it is.”

He added: “We absolutely believe that we have come to the right decision (on business rates relief). You look at some of the companies who paid it back, like Asda and Sainsbury’s – they then announced thousands of job cuts after.

“Having that relief meant we could preserve jobs, that’s what it was given to the sector to do. And actually, we’ve since been able to create jobs. So now, we felt that further support wasn’t needed so won’t take the extension.”

 

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