McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

CNHI Special Projects

October 24, 2011

Conflicted politics deter sales tax reform

CORSICANA , Texas — Byron Cook doesn't like the smell of taxes any more than his fellow Republican conservatives in the Texas Legislature. But he drew the line this summer on allowing millions of dollars in sales taxes to go uncollected.

Cook voted for a bill that requires online retailers like the electronic commerce giant Amazon to start collecting Texas sales taxes from their customers and remit the revenue to the state and local governments – just like bricks-and-mortar stores have always been obligated to do.

It was a polar opposite move to the tax-averse stance of conservative Republican lawmakers on the national stage, who view such legislation as a form of new taxation. But Cook and the GOP super-majority in the Texas Statehouse saw it as a fairness issue as well as a necessary measure to cope with the state’s $15 billion budget deficit.

At least eight other cash-strapped states this year have pushed similar bills to close a legal loophole that lets online retailers off the hook for sales tax collections unless they have a physical presence, such as a store, in the states where they do business.

Cyberspace doesn’t count. So Amazon, based in Seattle, doesn’t collect sales taxes in Texas or most other sales tax states, making their prices even more attractive to consumers there and putting traditional retailers at a disadvantage.

The common fear among sales tax states: A continued rapid rise of e-commerce and the associated reduction in sales tax revenues that pay for schools, police, parks, pensions and other basic public services.

“We're grappling with an issue that is extraordinarily important,” said Cook. “The way people make purchases is changing dramatically. If online retailers aren't made to collect the sales tax, we're talking about a revenue source that's going to disappear.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
CNHI Special Projects
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast
NDN Video
Swiftair Loses Contact With Air Algerie Aircraft LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.