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CON: Online sales tax ups costs, places burden on small businesses

By ALLISON MILES
June 2, 2013 at 1:02 a.m.
Updated June 3, 2013 at 1:03 a.m.


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For a full run-down of the Marketplace Fairness Act, visit marketplacefairness.org.

When Lonnie Trevino's oil and gas service business brought an overseas move for his family, it made sense to stock the new place with creature comforts from back home.

The only problem? That's easier said than done.

"A lot of times, you can't find things you're used to buying, like macaroni and cheese or peanut butter, on the shelves over there," he said. "They just don't have them."

The predicament led him to the Internet, he said, where websites such as online grocery store Netgrocer.com brought a bit of home to him. Even now, after his return to the States, he does a majority of his shopping online.

The frequent online shopper said said he doesn't like the thought of Internet sales taxes upping what people pay at the virtual checkout.

"I think one of the benefits of being able to shop online is the fact that you don't have to pay that," Trevino said. "I'm not for more taxes. I think some of us are taxed too much already."

Online retailer Ebay, on its Ebay Main Street website, said the company opposes any such legislation that does not include protections for small businesses nationwide.

The Internet is a necessary way for businesses to reach new markets and increase productivity, according to the site, which leads to job creation.

"However, treating a small online business the same as a mega-billion retailer and, therefore, making them collect and remit sales taxes as if they had nationwide presence will not foster small business growth and development," the site continues.

Bob Williams, president of the national nonprofit organization State Budget Solutions, said in an April 29 news release that states' hopes for the Marketplace Fairness Act to help boost revenues are misplaced.

"States need to fix their spending problems now and stop hoping that the federal government will ride in like a knight in shining armor and fix all their problems," he said in the release. "Hoping for more federal stimulus or hoping the feds will allow taxes on the Internet will not solve the budget crises the states currently face."

For Lauren Heller, a college sophomore about to embark on her first year at Texas State University, an online sales tax would bring an added burden. She often takes to the Internet for her shopping, she said, noting that a majority of her textbooks come from Amazon.com.

"It would be of great concern to me to see something like that go through," said Heller, who is babysitting this summer to save for the coming school year. "I'd be spending more money."

PRO: Online sales tax evens playing field among retailers

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