Meadville Tribune

Breaking News

Archive

October 21, 2011

Opinion: Change in law would hurt small businesses

When something sounds too good to be true...well, you know the rest of that adage.

The stated purpose of the Main Street Fairness Act is to “level the playing field” between online sellers and traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers by requiring online sellers to collect sales taxes on purchases from states where the seller has no physical presence.

The reality of the bill is that it would impose unfair and disproportionate collection burdens on exactly the sort of small businesses that lawmakers say are vital to the economic recovery.

And the real kicker? The proposal would generate a paltry amount of revenue, adding less than three-tenths of a percent to total state and local taxes.

According to a study by the Streamlined Sales Tax Project, small businesses spend 17 cents of their own money to collect and file every dollar of sales tax they send to their home states. This bill would force small online retailers to collect sales taxes for two dozen states, requiring expensive software updates, inviting exposure to an army of auditors, and cutting into resources they’d rather spend on building businesses and creating jobs.

So if the bill isn’t a revenue generator, and it’s not making things any more “fair,” what exactly is the purpose of it? Do big-box stores really need more help steamrolling small and midsized sellers, by undercutting their ability to compete?

Of all the problems with the Main Street Fairness Act, one of the worst is that it fails to define “safe harbors” for small businesses that could be crushed by its onerous, multi-jurisdictional collection regime.

Past attempts to pass similar legislation included a specified safe harbor that protected small businesses from the cost and complexity of this new Internet tax. Today’s legislation leaves the job of defining such safe harbors up to the unelected tax administrators on the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board. That’s like letting the foxes run the hen house.

Text Only
Business Marquee
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks