Jewish World Review Nov 11, 2011 / 14 Mar-Cheshvan, 5772
A Fair Tax That Really Is One
By Paul Greenberg
Who says bipartisan cooperation is a thing of the past in
The same argument can be made on behalf of the little guy -- the corner grocer or neighborhood drug store. If there are any of those left.
The owner of a small business in
"I'm a small retailer … and we all have been hurt, in one way or another, by Internet sales. The fact is, Internet sales have affected our business and affected most of the businesses in our state." His concluding plea: "All we're asking for is a leveling of the playing field…." This bill could provide it at last.
You don't have to live in
Put this issue in personal terms instead of covering it with legal complications and macroeconomic jargon, and it's clear enough what ought to be done:
If a store in town has to collect the sales tax, so should online companies.
The brick-and-mortar retailer not only loses the sale when the playing field is about as level as the
One study (sponsored by the
That impressive sum represents a lot of teachers unhired and potholes unfilled and basic services in general unprovided.
It's not just small businesses that suffer when online retailers get favored treatment but We the People.
The case for plugging this loophole in the tax structure has only grown greater as the Internet has grown.
The question of whether to tax online sales isn't unlike the old one of whether to collect tariffs on imported goods. The answer depends on what stage a country's economy has reached -- whether its industries are still developing and in need of protection from foreign competition, or whether they're strong enough to stand on their own and compete in a free market.
This little baby called the Internet grew up some time ago. It's become a computerized colossus, and it doesn't need this free ride any more.
Whether chain store or local institution, superstore or mom-and-pop, the businesses that have to collect sales taxes are growing tired of great big competitors who don't.
Why should online outfits get away with something that others, often little companies, can't?
It's time Amazon and online giants like it paid their fair share when it comes to sales taxes. There's a lot of talk these days about a Fair Tax; this really would be one.
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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.
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