To the editor:
I was glad to see that Senator Roy Blunt has signed on to support the Marketplace Fairness Act. This legislation would allow states to end the sales tax loophole that giant Internet-only retailers use to hurt Main Street businesses and kill local jobs. Updating our sales tax laws to apply them equally to all retailers is something I strongly support, and I hope more senators follow Sen. Blunt’s lead on this legislation.
Most people think that the stuff we buy online is “tax free.” It’s not, even though many online-only retailers don’t collect sales taxes. Consumers still owe the sales tax and it’s our burden to calculate it and pay it to the state.
Internet-only retailers like this situation because by placing the tax burden on consumers they can pretend they are selling “tax free” products. This allows them a huge advantage over our local businesses, allowing them an unfair competitive advantage.
This advantage is solely the result of government policy, and that’s just not right. The government created this sales tax loophole that online-only retailers are using and the government should end it as well. There is no reason why two stores should be treated differently by our sales tax law. If one store is located on the Internet and one is located in downtown St. Louis, and either sells something to a Missourian, they should both collect the same sales taxes.
It’s been difficult for states to update their sales tax laws to require online retailers to do this. Because of these difficulties, we need federal legislation to effectively close the sales tax loophole. The Marketplace Fairness Act will allow states to do this.
I’m sure Sen. Blunt has heard from many people about this legislation. The problems caused by the sales tax loophole are widespread. Local stores are being killed because of the unfair competition they face from online-only stores. The government policy favoring Internet retailers has caused many small businesses in Missouri to close. When they close, jobs disappear and part of our community dies.
We live in an age where more and more things are being done online. Businesses are forced to adapt or die. There’s nothing wrong with this situation, but our laws need to adapt, too. Our sales tax laws still date from a time when no one shopped online. The fact that they haven’t been modernized is skewing our retail marketplace.
The only way for Missouri to make a comprehensive update of its laws is if the Marketplace Fairness Act becomes law.
Sen. Blunt deserves the praise of every Missourian for standing up for sales tax fairness. I look forward to seeing the Marketplace Fairness Act become law and for Missouri to stop the sales tax discrimination that hurts our state’s retailers.