Letter: Playing field isn’t level in competition with Amazon
I applaud Steve Skinner for his excellent column about Amazon in the Dec. 11 Aspen Daily News. He did a great job of describing the giant void that Amazon is creating in our communities, but he did not explain how bad the situation actually is. While Amazon does collect sales taxes in many states, it does not collect any sales taxes in Colorado. This will change soon, but Amazon will still not collect local sales taxes. Local retailers are obligated by law to collect local and state sales taxes which fund vital programs like police protection, emergency and fire services, and infrastructure maintenance and operation. In 2017, Amazon reported profits of $5.6 billion, but did not pay a dime of federal income tax. So, Amazon does not support the federal government either.
While Amazon has been profitable the past few years, the vast majority of their profits come from Amazon Web Services, which is their division that provides services to other businesses. It has been estimated that their retail operation, despite its gargantuan size, actually loses money. Amazon’s business model (scorched earth capitalism) is to continue to grow until it eventually becomes profitable. So far, their shareholders have fully supported this predatory strategy which is aimed at driving small brick and mortar retailers out of business. In addition, Amazon employs a large workforce of low wage workers who toil in horrible conditions in its distribution centers.
As a local retail business owner, I support a wide variety of local charities. I also pay property taxes at a rate almost four times the residential property tax rate. I have no problem competing with any online retailer as long as the playing field is level, but competing with a company that does not have to be profitable, does not collect sales taxes, does not pay income taxes and does not support our local communities is extremely difficult. I urge every local resident who is concerned about the vitality of our communities to boycott Amazon and other irresponsible and predatory internet sellers.