Politics |Developing

Analyzing Trump’s criticism of Amazon

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Charles Turner

Charles Turner

"Hi Tom, I used your Atlantic link..."
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Tom Wrenn

"*Washington Post's biases towards Ama..."
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Tom Wrenn

"*and as the USPS has become more and ..."
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Tom Wrenn

"I think the article should acknowledg..."

President Donald J. Trump criticized Amazon for not operating on “on an even playing field” on April 5, which CNBC reports is the sixth time he attacked the Seattle-based company in a week. His feud with Amazon has largely lived on Twitter, including last week, when he accused the company of paying “little or no state & local.”

Trump’s March 29 tweet was more specific than his previous attacks on the world’s largest retailer, and owner Jeff Bezos

Axios reports that Trump is “obsessed” with Amazon, seeing the company as a threat to real estate and traditional retail industries.

This WikiTribune news stub is dedicated to fact-checking, reporting and analyzing Trump’s criticism of Amazon:

  • Does Amazon avoid state and local taxes?
  • Have Amazon shipments hurt the U.S. Postal Service?
  • Is there correlation between Amazon’s growth and the closing of brick and mortar businesses?
  • If none of the above are true, why is the president so critical of Amazon?

Fact-checking claims

Does Amazon avoid state and local taxes? Amazon was criticized for not paying sales taxes, which typically go to state or local governments. However, starting in 2017, Amazon began paying sales taxes in the 45 states that requested the payments, though only for items that Amazon or its subsidiaries sell directly, according to tax analyst firm True Partner Consultants

The White House confirmed that Trump’s criticism was centered on the dearth of sales tax on “third party” sellers (CNBC). “Third party sellers” are independent of Amazon, but use its platform to reach consumers. If the third party seller is based in another state (Amazon is based in the state of Washington), Amazon doesn’t collect state taxes – except in two states: Washington and Pennsylvania(CNBC).

These two states have Market Place Tax Laws that force online retailers to charge sales tax. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated that the Trump administration is interested in implementing a similar policy nationwide (Bloomberg). Tax reform requires an act of Congress.

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Does Amazon hurts brick & mortar retailers? The Atlantic reported that physical retail outlets are closing in record in part because of online shopping. But the decline in brick & mortar stores can also be attributed to millennials spending less on retail items, a dramatic change from the 1980s where shopping malls were a part of American culture (USA Today).

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Analyzing Trump’s criticism of Amazon

Amazon-Washington Post connection. While Jeff Bezos is the CEO of Amazon and owner of the Washington Post, there’s no evidence he’s interfered in the editorial decisions (Fortune). Trump disagrees.

As he has previously stated about other major publications, Trump said the Washington Post publishes “fake news” in order to hurt his presidency.

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Started by

United States
Charles Michio Turner is an American journalist who reports on labor, politics and development. In 2016, he reported from Myanmar on the several growing social movements in the country. His goal is to find new ways to include audiences in the new reporting process. Let him know if there's an issue or question that you see as being underreported or poorly reported. Twitter: @charlesmichio

History for stories "Analyzing Trump’s criticism of Amazon"

Select two items to compare revisions

06 April 2018

05:46:30, 06 Apr 2018 . .‎ Charles Anderson (Updated → update)
01:45:59, 06 Apr 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → update to brick and mortar and "playing field" comment)

03 April 2018

17:12:25, 03 Apr 2018 . .‎ Ed Upright (Updated → slight wording change)
16:55:25, 03 Apr 2018 . .‎ Oskar Austegard (Updated → Modest change in language to properly identify object and subject)
11:24:35, 03 Apr 2018 . .‎ Ed Upright (Updated → Donald J. added)
11:23:15, 03 Apr 2018 . .‎ Ed Upright (Updated → added "the" in summary)

02 April 2018

17:57:11, 02 Apr 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → fixed error pointed out wj)

30 March 2018

19:51:19, 30 Mar 2018 . .‎ Chuck Thompson (Updated → )
18:22:39, 30 Mar 2018 . .‎ Jonathan Miller (Updated → minor change)

29 March 2018

22:50:05, 29 Mar 2018 . .‎ Charles Anderson (Updated → untick hero)
22:49:34, 29 Mar 2018 . .‎ Charles Anderson (Updated → update)
22:49:05, 29 Mar 2018 . .‎ Charles Anderson (Updated → publish)
22:00:02, 29 Mar 2018 . .‎ Charles Turner (Updated → stub experiment)

Talk for Story "Analyzing Trump’s criticism of Amazon"

Talk about this Story

  1. Other

    I think the article should acknowledge that the long period from 1994 through 2017 when Amazon paid almost no state and local taxes has given them a huge advantage during a long period when many physical retailers struggled to compete resulting in the collapse and middling of Borders and Barnes and Noble as Amazon focused on books to Circuit City and Best Buy struggling against Amazon and other online electronics retailers (which were also later covered in these new state tax laws).

    Also it seems like the fight is only just beginning now that online retailers pay any local taxes. The mayor of Albequrque, NM was recently profiled specifically complaining about the defunding of his city by the lack of local sales tax from online retailers of which Amazon is a huge portion.

    On monopoly power, Amazon makes up 44% of online retail dollars spent. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/03/amazon-grabbed-4-percent-of-all-us-retail-sales-in-2017-new-study.html

    I hope there’s an analysis of the shipping costs subsidized for amazon vs other online retailers since I would think that Amazon’s share is even larger than their 44% dollar share since they result in so many little low cost purchases. Almost half of US households have an Amazon Prime membership so it seems likely http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/26/technology/amazon-prime-memberships/index.html

    Amazon has executed a monopoly strategy of paying no state or local tax, barely any profit to shareholders or to cash reserves, and has been subsidized by the USPS and we’ve seen retail employment fall and retailers file bankruptcy. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/retail-meltdown-of-2017/522384/

    1. Rewrite

      *and as the USPS has become more and more reliant on advertisers while Amazon has used it’s monopoly power and resultant ability to make a threat of starting their own postal delivery service (much like John D Rockefeller did to the railroads) to extract a subsidy from them all while Republicans have been trying to defunded and sabotaged them.

      *(Democratic) mayor of Albuquerque, NM

    2. Rewrite

      Hi Tom,

      I used your Atlantic link to begin a section on how Amazon affects brick & mortar businesses. Could you give a look and expand as you see fit? I kept it basic for now, and will circle back later.

  2. Rewrite

    There’s a contradiction in “Does Amazon avoid state and local taxes?”

    “Trump has criticized taxes imposed on “third party” sellers (CNBC).”
    Trump is opposed to sales taxes on third party sellers?

    “If the third party seller is based in another state (Amazon is based in the state of Washington), Amazon doesn’t collect state taxes – except in two states: Washington and Pennsylvania(CNBC).
    These two states have Market Place Tax Laws that force online retailers to charge sales tax. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated that the Trump administration is interested in implementing a similar policy nationwide (Bloomberg).”
    Trump is in favor of sales taxes on third party sellers?

    1. Rewrite

      William- thank you for pointing this out. Not sure what happened there, but I fixed it. Trump wants sales taxes on third party sellers.

      Please let me know if other things are missing. We’re looking for help with explaining the relationship between USPS and Amazon in particular.

  3. Rewrite

    Somewhere in this story recognize that our Derp-tweet-In-Chief refuses to reveal his own tax records yet willy-nilly comments about Amazon’s tax records that are public.

    Though the story points out what it thinks Trump is asserting regarding 3rd party storefront sellers on Amazon his frequent online babbling is a problem and a problem for media besides the USA general population. The media (WT) has to defer writing/reporting about Trump’s tweets as sensible information until it dawns on him to delegate some information gathering to professionals in government. Once the media is able to decipher sensible statements from Trump, then a story can be developed, merely parroting Trump’s tweets, (and trying to make sense of them) is a ‘feeding the beast’ recipe and does not serve the public, if you think about this misuse of information it is very dangerous.

    This administration should not get attention from this ongoing tweetstorm of misinformation. Meaning when information of relevance to home or world matters comes from POTUS, before acknowledging a news story maybe WikiTribune should have their own Snoops sidebar reporting e.g. non-validity-check-box that is waiting for clarification.
    Keep hammering home this message until some consistent information appears. Stop feeding this beast.

    1. Rewrite

      Hi Tim,

      These tweets are more than speculation. Axios reported that Trump has deep concerns about Amazon. The White House confirmed that he’s interested in a Marketplace Tax Law in response to Amazon.

      Which part is “misinformation?” If there are factually inaccurate claims, could you correct or add context?

    2. Rewrite

      This particular assertion happens to be a pretty well established criticism of Amazon’s monopoly power and Washington Post’s biases that had existed on the left well before Trump happened to start caring and tweeting about it and potentially acting on it in what looks like a very sensible way.

      1. Rewrite

        *Washington Post’s biases towards Amazon and towards the CIA who Amazon (currently) has a contract with that’s worth more than the value of the entire Washington Post.

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