Online tax an issue of fairnessPublished 10:17pm Monday, June 17, 2013
Alabama’s beleaguered budgets could receive some relief if congress passes legislation to allow states to collect the online sales taxes due them.
It is simply a basic fairness issue. It is not fair that retail stores are made to collect sales taxes while hotline online companies are not required to collect these taxes owed to Alabama.
Currently, the law is that online sellers who have a nexus, link or connection through retail or other operations in a state must collect and remit online sales tax but retailers that have no physical presence in a state cannot be required to collect the sales tax owed. However, the Supreme Court did not exempt online buyers from the obligation to pay taxes owed to their states for online purchases. Many either do not know they owe the taxes or simply choose not pay them.
Gov. Robert Bentley strongly supports the federal legislation and has met with state congressional delegation about the federal legislation pending in Washington.
The major retailers like Walmart and Target are aggressively pursuing passage of the federal legislation. However, small businesses are even more abused than the giants. A good many shoppers use the brick and mortar stores to examine products and learn more about them from a sales staff before buying the items online tax-free. If congress gives final passage to this Marketplace Fairness Act, Alabama could see a tremendous boon in revenue.
There is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel for Alabama and other states to get some relief on this matter. It is indeed halfway home. In May, the U.S. Senate passed this legislation by a vote of 69 to 27. Both of our U.S. Senators, Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions, voted for the measure. However, it is expected to have rougher sledding in the House. Some conservatives view it as a tax increase. Although we have one of the most conservative delegations on the Potomac, most of our congressional delegation appear to be on board.
Speaking of conservative, over the past few weeks I have been traveling the state and visiting with many of you who read my column weekly. It is always a pleasure to meet and visit with you. As I travel and speak it becomes apparent how conservative a state we really are. Even though our legislature may pass symbolic laws regarding immigration and gun controls, you like them passing these “stand in the school house door” measures even though they are simply grandstanding.
However, this internet sales tax measure is not a conservative or liberal issue. It is simply a fairness issue. Retail businesses are not competing on a level playing field. It is not only unfair to retailers, it is unfair to Alabama. Hopefully, congress can resolve this matter.