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E-Fairness legislation should be passed

The following is an editorial from the Mankato Free Press.

The Legislature and governor have had great difficulty finding enough bipartisan support to pass any significant legislation.

So, before the session soon ends, they should jump at the chance to pass a tax bill that has bipartisan support, would help businesses and would bring more money into state coffers.

The proposed E-Fairness legislation, also dubbed the “Amazon” bill, would force online retailers to collect state sales taxes from Minnesota buyers.

Residents are already supposed to pay the sales tax when they order things online, but virtually none do.

The law wouldn’t bring in a flood of money for state coffers — only about $10 million each biennium — but the amount will undoubtedly grow as more commerce moves online.

No matter the amount, collecting the tax is a matter of fairness to businesses in Minnesota that are required to collect sales taxes whenever they sell an item.

As a Minnesota furniture store owner noted during a recent press conference, local retailers’ showrooms are increasingly becoming a place where customers shop for merchandise but then purchase the item online to avoid the sales tax.

Indeed, many shoppers now go to their local store — be it a Best Buy or a family owned business — pick out a product they like and simply swipe their smart phone over the bar code and order the item online tax free.

The legislation has bipartisan support, with DFL and GOP lawmakers saying it’s a common sense bill. Gov. Dayton has said he would sign a bill. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce supports the legislation.   

But the bill is still being fought by a group of influential Republican legislators who say they oppose any tax increase. The logic is confounding considering Minnesotans are already supposed to be paying the tax.

The Legislature should pass the bill this session and not force Minnesota businesses to be in the position of starting out 7 percent higher in their prices because their online competitors don’t collect sales taxes.

Reprinted with permission of the Free Press.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/18/2012 - 03:55 pm.

    On-line purchases were to be exempt temporarily

    from sales taxes so they’d have a better chance of becoming established. I’d say that the on-line retail industry is now well established and perfectly capable of collecting sales taxes.

  2. Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/18/2012 - 09:04 pm.

    It’s time for a federal law

    requiring merchants doining business in the U.S., whether online, by catalog, or by any other means, to collect and remit sales taxes to the state to which the product is shipped.

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