Trump falsely claims Amazon lost Supreme Court tax case in ongoing Washington Post tirade

President Donald Trump speaks at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. (DOD Photo / Dominique A. Pineiro)

President Donald Trump resumed his attacks on the “Amazon Washington Post” Monday morning, this time with a peculiar twist.

Trump once again accused The Post — which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos but not directly connected to the e-commerce giant — of running negative coverage of his administration as part of a specious lobbying effort. But these tweets stand out from past ones because of a new claim. Trump said that Amazon lost a major Supreme Court case in June that addressed how internet retailers collect state sales tax.

Amazon declined to comment on the president’s tweets.

The case Trump mentioned was brought by South Dakota against three major online retailers, but Amazon wasn’t one of them. The Supreme Court sided with South Dakota, ruling that states have the right to collect sales tax from internet sellers, even if those companies don’t have a physical presence in the state. Amazon wasn’t involved in the lawsuit and the ruling didn’t have a dramatic effect on the company. Amazon was already collecting sales taxes in every state that requires it.

The ruling does raise some questions for third-party sellers on Amazon. Prior to the ruling, sellers were responsible for collecting sales taxes if they had a presence in the state. In the wake of the ruling, companies like Amazon will have to keep an eye on how each state handles sales tax legislation and whether they will have to collect the funds on behalf of third-party sellers.

Nevertheless, Trump’s tweet appears to claim that the Supreme Court struck a blow to Amazon. He also seems to suggest that Amazon’s next loss will come as a result of changes to the U.S. Postal Service, which delivers many of the e-commerce giants packages.

Trump has been accusing Amazon of exploiting USPS as its personal “delivery boy” at unfair prices for months. USPS is struggling financially but package delivery is actually a rare revenue generator for the service. USPS reported a decrease of $1.8 billion in revenue in 2017 compared to the previous year. But that drop was driven largely by a decline in regular mail, like letters and postcards. Package volumes actually grew by 11.4 percent, according to USPS, helping offset some of the losses in regular mail.

In March, Trump created a task force to review USPS’s finances and operations and report back to the president.

Although The Washington Post is unaffiliated with Amazon, Trump’s latest tweets accuse the paper of providing cover for the company against antitrust claims. Amazon stock dipped 1.8 percent to $1,782 per share in the wake of Trump’s tweets but rebounded to $1,806 later Monday morning.

The president’s claim about The Post’s financial trouble is also unfounded. The paper has actually been profitable for the past two years, a rare accomplishment in the notoriously challenging media industry.

As Trump continues to lambast Amazon, company officials are weighing a decision that will transform one North American city. There are 20 cities competing for Amazon HQ2 and 19 of them are in the United States. Amazon is a company that plans for a future far longer than one presidency but it is possible that political hostility in the U.S. could increase Toronto’s chances of landing the $5 billion second headquarters.