Meadville Tribune

Breaking News

CNHI News Service Originals

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
CNHI News Service Originals
  • car-dashboard-gps.jpg Do cars have too many distracting gadgets?

    New cars are a gadget freak's dream; sophisticated navigation systems, Internet connectivity for mobile devices, systems to monitor your driving habits and a system that automatically summons help.

    August 3, 2012 1 Photo

  • Five myths about choosing a vice president

    Every presidential election cycle, once a party's nominee becomes clear, we focus on the veepstakes. Who will Mitt Romney choose? Will he play it safe with a traditional pick, such as Walter Mondale in 1976 or Jack Kemp in 1996? Or take a chance, as John McCain did with Sarah Palin in 2008? Either way, there is no evidence that a vice presidential nominee plays a great part in voters' decisions. But that doesn't stop us from overhyping the selection process.

    July 6, 2012

  • gift-card-2.jpg Gift card givers, beware: 6 tips to protect your purchase

    Many shoppers looking for a simple, easy present for friends and family this holiday season will turn to gift cards, letting the recipient do the shopping at their favorite store or restaurant. But the Better Business Bureau says consumer complaints about gift cards are on the rise, and buyers need to beware of potential pitfalls.

    December 14, 2011 1 Photo

  • vacancy-sign.jpg Stay scared: 10 most haunted hotels in America An overnight stay at a haunted hotel is a nightmare come true for many thrill-seeking tourists, and travel website TripAdvisor has named the top 10 places where you can scare up a good vacation.

    October 25, 2011

  • met092211amazonwarehouse.jpg E-commerce raises question of sales tax fairness

    A growing chorus of bricks-and-mortar small businesses are 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.

    October 24, 2011 4 Photos 2 Stories 1 Video 1 Link

  • met092211toddsmith.jpg Conflicted politics deter sales tax reform

    Lawmakers face political challenges in closing a legal loophole that allows online retailers to avoid paying sales taxes, as they weigh an issue of fairness against aversion to raising taxes.

    October 24, 2011 3 Photos 4 Stories 1 Video

  • Hugo Eight must-see films to close out 2011

    It's that time of the year, when all the films that are either designed to draw in big holiday bucks or win big 2012 awards get released. And those in love with cinema have dozens of options at the theater.

    October 14, 2011 1 Photo

  • Red_Leaf_BH.jpg SLIDESHOW: Fall colors on display across the U.S. The change in seasons brings a vivid display of fall foliage. Check out this gallery of photos of autumn colors from across the United States.

    October 14, 2011

  • organic-produce.jpg Organic: Is it worth it?

    “Organic” has long been one of those buzzwords floating around health- and food-conscious communities. The fact is, though, not a lot of studies actually confirm that people who eat organic food are more healthy than those who don’t.
    SLIDESHOW: The 'dirty dozen' of fruits and veggies

    September 23, 2011 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • Jane-Lynch-Emmys.jpg Who will win Emmys? See most-nominated TV shows Some epic HBO dramas along with a few popular comedy staples lead the way in nominations for the 63rd annual Prime time Emmy Awards, which air Sunday night.

    September 16, 2011 1 Photo