Barcelona City Council wants to tax home delivery of online purchases

The objective is to favor traditional commerce with a rate for internet sales firms for the intensive use of public roads and parking lots for loading and unloading with vans.

The Barcelona’s town hall prepare a rate to tax the crescent home delivery of products in the city. The measure aims to manage the growing impact of online sales and the proliferation of vehicles with more than two wheels, for example vans, that park to deliver packages at home. The city’s left-wing consistory thus intends to defend the traditional commercial structure and small businesses against the rise of online commerce and multinational platforms such as Amazon or Aliexpress. An opinion made by experts from the Carlos III University of Madrid has drawn the main lines of the legal text, which must be discussed within the City Council.

The promoters of the new rate, with the Deputy Mayor, Jaume Collboni, and the Councilor for Commerce, Montse Ballarín, at the helm, consider that the initiative is fully justified for both fiscal and economic reasons, both for the support of traditional commerce and to protect the environment by limiting the wild growth of parcel transport in the city.

The current legal framework prevents the rate from being formally a tax to prevent it from being considered state aid for sectors not included, according to the initiative’s legal advisers. The idea, which was born from the demand of the commercial sector itself, is to tax “the occupation of the public domain that these ‘online’ companies carry out intensively”. The solution is to apply a tax to postal operators, but not harm either the riders or local businesses, with an added cost of parking for mechanical traction vehicles with more than two wheels that carry out a home delivery activity. shipments.

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This rate would be for regulated parking on public roads for the delivery of postal items to end consumers, so the delivery of products between companies would be excluded from the tax. If it would include the typical activity of firms such as Amazon both in cases in which its own inventory is sold and in which third-party products are marketed, if said companies ‘online’ offer and carry out delivery logistics activities (collection, admission , packaging, storage, classification, treatment, course and transport between the different logistics centers, transport from the logistics centers to the final distribution point and from the final distribution point, delivery to the final consumer -last mile-). The measure would directly affect postal companies when the delivery comes from ‘online’ commerce, so electronic commerce platforms would be included in this case.

As a consequence of this municipal legal framework, any postal operator will be affected if it delivers goods purchased in commercial establishments (in person), “since their exclusion would be impossible from the perspective of the management of the rate and of the Community law regarding State aid” , argue legal advisers. Taxpayers are subject to the rate regardless of whether they carry out the transport directly or subcontract it.

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The price to pay in the new rate is still the subject of analysis by the City Council technicians, although they recognize that the criteria applied «will not be very different from those already used by local authorities in the regulatory ordinances of the Regulated parking fees ”based on a“ global market value ”adjusted according to time slots to avoid overcrowding of deliveries. The value of this public space used by postal operators is under study, based on the income of the operators in the municipal area of ​​Barcelona. A bonus for zero-emission vehicles would be applied to that quota, which could be around 10% in the first drafts of the regulations. The use of urban parcel distribution centers would also be subsidized.

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The City Council is analyzing reserving specific areas for regulated parking, the use of which will require obtaining the mandatory license by postal service operators for home delivery. The income obtained from the application of the rate regulated in this ordinance will be used to finance actions aimed at promoting the digitization of retail trade in Barcelona.

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