King joins tax row

Justin King, the vice chairman of Wyevale Garden Centre's owner Terra Firma, takes side of UK retailers in the row over the tax paid by multinationals such as Amazon and eBay.

King, who was formerly chief executive officer of J Sainsbury Plc, said it was unfair that traditional retailers had to pay huge rates bills for services such as roads and waste collection, while their online rivals paid little but received the same benefits.

"Business rates are by far the most significant inbalance in the tax system," King said. "Business rates for most retail businesses are a much more significant part of the tax burden than any other part of the tax system."

King added: "A big part of of the advantage non bricks and mortar retailers enjoy is their ability to use services that their competitors paid for. They use the roads, they still use waste collection services but they are paid for by the local retailer, through business rates, who has just had that sale competed away from him.

"That unbalance is a [big] part of the change we are seeing [on the high street] and clearly has to change at some point."

Amazon, with sales of more than £6bn in sales from the UK, is estimated to pay about £10m in business rates. Marks & Spencer, which has UK sales of almost £10bn, last yearhad a rates bill of £177m.

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