UK plans to tax firms that profited from pandemic: Sunday Times

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain plans to tax retailers and tech companies whose profits have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sunday Times reported, citing leaked emails.

The government has summoned companies to discuss how an online sales tax would work, while plans are also being drawn up for a one-off "excessive profits tax", the newspaper reported.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak is unlikely to announce these taxes at the budget announcement scheduled for March 3, which will focus on an extension of the COVID-19 furlough programme and support for businesses, the report said.

They are instead likely to surface in the second half of the year.

Sunak faces pressure from some in his Conservative Party to show spending is under control when he presents a new budget, after what is on track to be the heaviest annual borrowing since World War Two.

He has promised to put public finances on a sustainable footing once the economy begins to recover. Data last month showed public borrowing since the start of the financial year in April reached a record 271 billion pounds ($370 billion).

The finance ministry was not immediately available for comment on the Sunday Times report.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Dan Grebler)