Senator John Boozman (R-AR) gave an interview with Roby Brock on Talk Politics on Monday and said that he believed online retailers should collect sales tax, just as bricks-and-mortar retailers do. For Senator Boozman, it seems to be an issue of fairness and states’ rights:
[Where I live] sales tax is about 9 percent . . . and so when [bricks-and-mortar retailers] start out 9 percent behind [because they have to collect sales tax and online retailers don’t], then you’ve got problems. . . .
When you look at the trajectory, online sales are heading just upwards as quickly as they can do. If you’d asked me this question ten years ago I’d [have said] no, leave the internet alone, let them establish themselves. Right now they’re very much established, and so I don’t think it’s fair. . . .
I think it’s a states’ rights issue. I think the states ought to be able to allow [online sales tax collection], and I think . . . we need to make it such that the states can . . . enforce it, and then go from there. But I do think right now it’s not a level playing field, and you look at rural America, it’s very very difficult right now with the economy that we’ve got, but when you have this tremendous inequity it makes it that much harder.
We couldn’t agree more. States should be able to determine for themselves whether and how sales tax should be collected on online purchases, just like any other kind of purchase, and online and bricks-and-mortar retailers should all play by the same rules.
However, we are puzzled but encouraged by one statement Senator Boozman made: that he didn’t really like the Durbin bill (the Main Street Fairness Act) but would be working with Senator Durbin. We hope this signals a renewed sense of compromise to achieve a common good.
Bravo, Senator Boozman! Thank you for having the courage to speak out on this important issue and for committing to help protect states rights and local businesses.