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
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'
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.