Here's what Trump could do to Amazon

Is it causing the U.S. Postal Service to bleed money?

In July past year, Donald Trump tweeted that many articles about him in the Post were "fake news" and in another tweet he asked if the Washington Post was being used as a "lobbyist weapon" against Congress.

That's translated to more packages and package-related revenue, in part thanks to Amazon.

"Although we continue to win customers and grow our package business, these gains are not sufficient to offset continuing declines in our mail business, which is our main source of revenue and contribution", Postmaster General and CEO Megan Brennan said last month. In 2006, Congress mandated that the postal service prepay benefits, a special requirement other agencies do not face. "Instead, the tech behemoth Trump wants to go after is Amazon", Axios reported. On Feb. 15, speaking at a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin said he had spoken personally with Trump about online taxation, and that the president "does feel strongly" that sales tax should be applied to internet purchases. The president would love to clip CEO Jeff Bezos wings.

Amazon.com Inc. did not respond to a request for comment. "I don't think it can be stopped but I don't think he can target one company".

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Trump has talked about using antitrust law to "go after" the company because he is anxious about mom-and-pop retailers being put out of business by Amazon, Axios reported, citing five sources it said had discussed the issue with him. Shares (AMZN) dropped 4%, but they rebounded Thursday.

"If Mr. Trump's point was that Amazon did not collect sales taxes - which are owed by the purchaser and collected by the retailer - it is true that the company once avoided doing so".

For a time, many people selling things on Amazon would set themselves up in states with little or no state income tax, and then declare that all the income they earned in the USA should be taxed as though it was from there, regardless of where the buyer was from.

Amazon did not initially collect state sales taxes when it began selling books online in 1995. The company didn't pay federal income tax in 2017 and in the past, did not pay sales taxes in many states.

Stifel analyst Scott Devitt said the e-retailer collects sales taxes in the 45 states that have state sales taxes and the District of Columbia. The online retail giant clearly leverages many tools to keep the tax man at bay.

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The issue is still being disputed at the federal level, with the US Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments on April 17 in a case which could reverse a 1992 decision that only companies with a physical presence in a state are required to collect state sales tax.

One possible change could affect the growing number of third-party retailers that sell through Amazon. Toys R Us and other retailers that have filed for bankruptcy or gone out of business have said that Amazon's low prices were hard to compete with.

"Amazon for many years reinvested all its profits into expansion, with the result that it paid little or no taxes because taxes are calculated based on profits", said Joseph Bishop-Henchman, executive vice president of the Tax Foundation.

"So for Amazon there really is a big advantage on the state sales tax because of current policy", Hassett said.

Trump's criticism also comes as Amazon looks for a location for its second headquarters, asking cities and states around the country to pitch tax incentives as bait for its promised 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment.

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  • Kelly Blake