A demand has been made for any new online sales tax to be used by the Treasury to address long-standing concerns about unfair delivery charges to the isles.
MP Alistair Carmichael has made the call after media reports suggested the government may propose a two per cent levy on online sales, or a charge on deliveries, in order to cut congestion and emissions.
He said: “It has been evident for some time that online retailers benefit from significant financial advantages over bricks-and-mortar shops.
“This was the case before the pandemic and has only become more apparent with the effects of lockdown. A new tax on online retail could be a valid way to recoup government spending but it cannot simply be a sweeping measure.
“The imposition of an online sales tax could be the moment to address longstanding local concerns about online retailers treating Orkney and Shetland – and other communities that are more distant from the big cities – differently.
“I shall be asking the Chancellor of the Exchequer to offer a tax break to those companies that offer a single universal charge for delivery over the whole country. The cost to the Exchequer could be small but for communities across the Highlands and Islands it would at last settle a long-standing grievance. Any mail order company that wants to treat us differently from the rest of the country in the future can do so but they must pay for the privilege.”