McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

CNHI Special Projects

October 23, 2011

E-commerce raises question of sales tax fairness

NORMAL, Ill. — Dick Smith thrives on competition. At 69, he braved the heat and sandstorms of the Saharan desert to compete against rivals half his age this summer on ABC’s adventure reality show, “Expedition Impossible.”

Smith was edged out before he could reach the finish line, but the retired Army Ranger felt he’d been in a fair fight. He doesn’t say the same for the small-store business climate to which he returned and relies on for his livelihood.

Smith contends his outdoor-gear store in this central Illinois college town is forced to play by unfair tax rules that compel him to add almost 8 percent in sales tax to a customer's bill, but exclude his online competitors from the same burden.

“I have people come in here all the time who tell me they can get their gear cheaper online,” Smith said. “When I have to add on that sales tax, it isn't tough math to do.”

Smith is among a growing chorus of bricks-and-mortar small businesses protesting what they see as tax law inequities driving them to the brink by requiring they collect and remit sales taxes while their electronic counterparts prosper through tax-free goods and services.

Studies show more than 1 of every 4 dollars in purchases covered by sales taxes go uncollected in the U.S. because of online transactions, adding up to an estimated $12 billion annually in lost revenue, according to the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Tennessee.

The biggest beneficiaries are Amazon, eBay, Overstock and other giant online retailers that operate almost entirely in cyberspace. But there are also a multitude of smaller Internet businesses that reap the rewards of tax-free commerce. They object to collecting sales taxes because of the varied rates and exemption rules across the country.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
CNHI Special Projects
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday
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.