According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, small business owners from Utah traveled to Washington, DC, to “meet with members of Utah’s congressional delegation and Congressman Steve Womack, R-Ark., who introduced states’ rights ‘e-fairness’ legislation last week.” Although the article doesn’t specifically say so, it certainly sounds like the reason for the visit was to persuade Utah’s congressional delegation to support online sales tax legislation.
The article quotes small business owners making some good points about online sales tax collection:
“Small businesses across the state of Utah are struggling,” said Jared Hurst, owner of Rebel Sports, “and the unfair advantage given to online retailers hurts Utah businesses and local communities.” . . .
Betsy Burton, owner of the King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, also supports Womack’s legislation. Her bookstore now draws cutthroat competition from online retailers such as Amazon.com.
“This is a huge economic issue,” said Burton. “Internet sales are getting bigger and bigger and if we can’t compete on this unlevel playing field, it will drive bricks-and-mortar businesses out of business. And we are the backbone of the economy.”
The chair of the Utah Tax Commission, Bruce Johnson, also made a good point, one that we’ve heard many times from local retailers:
“People will go in and shop at a bricks-and-mortar retailer in Utah to get specifics,” Johnson said, “and then go buy the product on the Web to save sales tax.”
An executive at O.co (formerly Overstock.com), which is also based in Utah, repeated his company’s concern that it’s too difficult to collect sales tax for all states.
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