Analyzing Trump's criticism of Amazon

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.

Donald J. Trump on Twitter

I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, 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!

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.

Donald J. Trump on Twitter

Is Fake News Washington Post being used as a lobbyist weapon against Congress to keep Politicians from looking into Amazon no-tax monopoly?

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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