Leaving the EU offers a real opportunity to boost the great British high street – by levelling the playing field between local firms and online giants like Amazon.
Small business owners in Dover and Deal work tirelessly to make a success of their shops, cafes and restaurants – and they pay their taxes in full. Yet some big businesses seem to think it's OK that the person cleaning their offices pays more in tax than they do. It's not – and I have been campaigning in Parliament for years to put a stop to this.
The problem I've run up against time and again is European Law, which international businesses exploit in order to dodge taxes. That's why when the UK leaves, it's vital we are no longer bound by EU rules that hinder us from making our tax system work fairly. This is a great opportunity to see that big international businesses are required to pay their fair share.
Because things can't carry on as they are. Amazon will tell you that ordering goods from your kitchen table in the UK – delivered from a warehouse in the UK – is somehow taxable in Luxembourg. Do you buy it?
Meanwhile, Google with five British offices, 5,000 staff and a £1 billion super-HQ in London will tell you they are only taxable in Ireland. This kind of tax fiction infuriates people – especially small business owners in our area working all hours of the day to make ends meet.
Outside the EU, we can ensure everyone pays their fair share – and use the extra cash to further reduce business taxes across the board.
VAT is another tax whose rules are set by the EU. I've been battling in Parliament against massive VAT fraud by overseas traders online. The potential tax dodging we are talking about runs into billions of pounds – money we need to fund the NHS and our schools.
Yet because the VAT rules are set by the EU and very inflexible, we cannot currently force the likes of Amazon and eBay to collect VAT. As an independent country in full control of our tax system we would be able to – as indeed they have in Australia. Amazon went bananas about this. But the Australians stuck to their guns and saw it through. I have no doubt the Australians will soon end up with a lot more tax revenue – and see their high streets compete on a more level playing field.
It's clear we need to get as far from the EU as fast as we can – so we can reap the full benefits of independence and what the globe has to offer. By taking back control of our laws, we can create a level playing field for small businesses and high street shops in Dover and Deal. We can build a tax system that is fair to all – and makes big businesses pay their fair share of taxes.
Image by Lewis Clarke
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