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Fact check: Trump's claims about Amazon's cost to taxpayers


He's criticized the company for skirting taxes, slammed its CEO Jeff Bezos for using the newspaper he owns to push Amazon's agenda, and occasionally accused Amazon of taking advantage of the U.S. Postal Service.

Trump does not have any new policies planned that would affect Amazon, a White House official said on Thursday, adding that Trump was prompted to speak out on the subject in reaction to news reports this week.

Trump also wants to change Amazon's tax treatment, the report said, an issue the president raised publicly previous year when he called for an internet tax for online retailers, even though Amazon already collects sales tax on items it sells direct to customers.

Amazon is not involved in the case but the eventual ruling could have consequences for the online retailing behemoth and other e-commerce businesses.

The retailer and cloud computing pioneer is the latest company Trump has singled out for praise or condemnation, although the effect on stock prices of his targets is generally short-lived. Here's a look back at Trump's beef with Amazon.

A Supreme Court ruling favouring South Dakota could funnel up to $13 billion (£9.3 billion) annually of new tax revenues into the coffers of affected USA states, according to a 2017 federal government report.

Two things before we dive in: The Washington Post has been owned since 2013 by Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, as a personal investment via Nash Holdings LLC. Now the company charges sales taxes in the 45 states that have them and the District of Columbia.

What's more, e-commerce - and Amazon was responsible for about 44% of all United States e-commerce sales past year - is a sizable job creator.

In other words, the changes being called for by Trump to shipping policies may actually be more damaging to Amazon than to the distressed Postal Service, which handles some 40% of the tech giant's shipping, according to a study cited by The New York Times. "Towns, cities and states throughout the USA are being hurt - many jobs being lost!"

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Amazon is only set to get bigger as it moves into the grocery market.

Michael Pachter, a former tax attorney who is now a financial analyst with Wedbush Securities, said Trump's information about Amazon's tax status is likely outdated.

The other prong to Trump's criticism concerns the U.S. Postal Service. In a letter in July to The Wall Street Journal, Corbett wrote that the Postal Service's "competitive package products, including those that we deliver for Amazon" are legally required to cover the costs incurred. But its line of business for shipping and packages has been a bright spot in recent years, with revenue increasing by $2.1 billion, to $19.5 billion, in fiscal 2017. Of course, Amazon might not even need the Post Office when its fleet of drones takes flight.

In his tweet, Trump also took aim at the company's use of the postal service is "causing tremendous loss", but that too is misleading.

To comply with federal law, the Postal Service in 2017 had to generate at least $1.6 billion in income from its "competitive nonpostal services", which includes Amazon package deliveries.

Though it's unclear how much of a boon, if any, Amazon has turned out to be, the postal service is better off today than it was before.

"If I become president, oh do they have problems", Trump said at a campaign stop in 2016.

Amazon has undoubtedly contributed to the closure of many brick-and-mortar stores and the bankruptcy of some chains as more people shop online instead of in malls.

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