Councilman wants local support for federal law

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Aug. 20, 2013 at 3:20 a.m.
Updated Aug. 21, 2013 at 3:21 a.m.

A Victoria elected official is drumming up support for a proposed federal law that he says would level the economic playing field for retailers.

However, others on the City Council worry the proposal, which is supported largely by big-box retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy, will do little to save Texas jobs or help mom and pop stores.

Under the suggestion of Councilman David Hagan, the Victoria City Council will vote Tuesday whether to support the Marketplace Fairness Act.

He believes it would save Texas jobs by putting pressure on online retail competition.

Hagan said the only local mom and pop business he knows supporting the act is Victoria All Sports.

"Folks come in, use his shop to touch the goods, then buy online," Hagan said.

According to Manta, an online business directory, Victoria All Sports has between 5 and 9 employees and has been in business more than 40 years.

The act, if passed as law, "would plug the hole" on eBay and other online retailers that do not collect sales tax, Hagan said. Amazon complies with state sales tax rules.

"It's a tax that's already owed," Hagan said; therefore, it is not an added burden to consumers. "All businesses should be required to collect sales tax, or none should."

Mayor Paul Polasek, who has previously questioned whether the local governing body should spend time on federal issues, saw the situation differently.

"Sometimes, it might be best if we not weigh-in on certain issues," he said. "That's just food for thought."

He used an example of driving to another state, purchasing something and paying sales tax at that state.

When he returns to Victoria, he won't be stopped at the Texas border and asked to pay the tax again.

Polasek said if a business has no physical structure in Texas, and no impact on Texas, "there is no reason for them to pay a tax."

Councilman Tom Halepaska said he is concerned about the proposed law's donors.

"There's too many bad boys on the wrong side," he said.

The act is aimed at businesses that take in more than $1 million annually.

"That's a mid-sized business," Halepaska said. "You'll end up stifling your own growth to keep it under $1 million."



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