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Marketplace Fairness Act takes front and center (video)

By ALLISON MILES
July 18, 2013 at 2:18 a.m.

David Hagan

To learn more

about the Marketplace Fairness Act, visit MarketplaceFairness.org.

It's a scene Darrell Hester said has become increasingly common inside Victoria's All-Sports Center, the 42-year-old business he owns on Houston Highway.

Potential customers step through the doors, hold the products in their hands and discuss the pros and cons with shop employees. Then they buy the items online, where they don't have to pay taxes.

"I think that it's time that we need to do something about it," he said.

Hester, Victoria Mayor Pro-Tem David Hagan and Eric Bearse, Texas spokesman for the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, gathered inside the business Thursday to voice support for the Marketplace Fairness Act.

The act, which the U.S. Senate passed in May and which now awaits a House vote, would require Internet retailers to charge sales tax in online payments.

The move would place small businesses statewide on a more even keel, Bearse said. E-tailers such as Ebay currently have as much as an 8-and-a-quarter percent price advantage over brick-and-mortar businesses that must collect that sales tax.

"Ebay doesn't create local jobs, doesn't contribute to the local tax base, doesn't support local causes," he said. "Businesses like the All-Sports Center do."

A study released Thursday by Let Freedom Ring, a group that describes itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy membership organization, highlighted the benefits that would come with passing the act.

Among those findings for Texas were 155,882 added jobs through 2022 and $62.9 billion in additional GDP.

Hagan encouraged Congress to stand up to out-of-state companies he said are robbing Texans of billions in revenue, stealing sales and taking Texas jobs away.

Congressman Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, sits on the subcommittee which is handling the legislation, Hagan said, noting he hopes to see the politician stand up for small-business owners throughout Victoria, the Crossroads and the Lone Star State as a whole.

The program is not about collecting new taxes, Hagan said - with that added income, legislators could pass tax cuts on to Texans if the act went through - but about ensuring area businesses don't sit at an unfair disadvantage.

Hagan, who described himself as a conservative Republican and active tea party activist, said he's taken the conservative stance.

"We have a lot more people in Texas working in large and small stores than Internet retailers, and we need to make sure we're all playing on a level playing field," he said.

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