President Trump escalated his attack on Amazon on Thursday, saying that the online behemoth does not pay enough taxes — and strongly suggesting that he may try to rein in the e-commerce business.
The president’s commentary was made in a Twitter post in which he accused Amazon of putting thousands of local retailers out of business and of using the United States Postal Service as “their Delivery Boy.”
I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 29 Mart 2018
Amazon and the company’s founder, Jeff Bezos, are among Mr. Trump’s regular Twitter targets. In December, Mr. Trump questioned whether the United States Post Office charges Amazon enough for package deliveries. And in August, Mr. Trump said Amazon hurts taxpaying businesses.
Amazon, however, does pay taxes — $412 million in 2016, for instance, according to the company’s report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Mr. Trump has attacked Amazon on Twitter more than a dozen times since late 2015, months after he had launched his presidential campaign. Many of those tweets seem to have been prompted by critical coverage in The Washington Post, the news organization that Mr. Bezos acquired personally in 2013 for $250 million.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly accused Mr. Bezos of using The Post as a tool to intimidate opponents in Washington into treating Amazon more favorably, although editors at the newspaper say Mr. Bezos plays no role in directing its news coverage.
The president’s latest broadside did not mention The Post, instead focusing on a handful of issues he has previously cited to criticize Amazon. While Amazon once widely avoided collecting sales tax in states, it now collects them in every state that has one for goods that it sells from its own inventory.
Some municipalities, however, have complained that Amazon does not collect local taxes under its agreements with states. And in most states Amazon does not collect sales taxes on sales of goods sold by third parties on its platform.
Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, declined to comment.
The media company Axios reported on Wednesday that Mr. Trump has wondered aloud whether Amazon could be vulnerable to antitrust or competition laws. Amazon shares fell almost 5 percent after the Axios article was published. In afternoon trading Thursday, they were down more than 1 percent.
Raj Shah, a deputy White House press secretary, said that Mr. Trump “has talked about the need to have tax parity between online retailers and brick-and-mortar retailers.”
Mr. Shah, speaking Thursday morning on the program, “Fox & Friends,” said this was something Congress could help facilitate and that the president would support.
In 2015, shortly after Mr. Trump started his attacks against the company, Mr. Bezos joked on Twitter about sending the candidate into space on a rocket made by Blue Origin, a space exploration start-up Mr. Bezos owns.
But since Mr. Trump became president, Mr. Bezos and Amazon have become much quieter about his attacks.
The company has refused to comment publicly about them.
People who work there say privately that, while they do not enjoy Mr. Trump’s tweets, they are more likely to prompt eye rolling rather than some form of crisis control.
Mr. Trump’s latest criticism come as the tech industry is facing a backlash to its power and influence.
Facebook, Twitter and Google have come under particularly harsh scrutiny for their role in the 2016 presidential election, when people tied to Russia used the services to spread political messages and misinformation.
The focus on Facebook has intensified this month, after reports that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, improperly harvested the information of 50 million users of the social network.