Online shoppers could pay sales tax

By: Morgan Downing Email
By: Morgan Downing Email

GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Online retailers often reel shoppers in by offering "no sales tax". One bill working it's way through Congress could put a stop to that. It's a big hit with local businesses.

Online shopping, convenient., fast and can be less expensive, since some sites don't charge sales tax.

Local merchant Sandi Key doesn't think it's fair.

"It would be nice if someone kind of took care of us little people down here," store owner Sandi Key said.

A newly proposed federal online sales tax bill could do just that if it's passed.

Right now, online shoppers in both Oklahoma and Texas are supposed to report any sales tax for online purchases: Oklahomans, on their taxes, Texans, tto the comptroller's office.

"We all know that people don't do that," Denison Chamber president, Anna McKinney said.

McKinney said local merchants are falling victim to online retailers.

"What we've seen over the years since online shopping became so popular is a lot of people will go to the local retailer, that's paying to have a store front and employees and a business, look at a product and then they go home and order online to save the sales tax," McKinney said.

If passed, it would affect each state differently. For example, Amazon already charges a sales tax for online shoppers in Texas because they have warehouses there. Oklahoma buyers aren't charged. The bill would force online buyers to pay the sales tax, regardless of where they live.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states estimate they lose $11.5 billion in annual sales taxes from online purchases.

"Our cities do operate from the sales tax that's collected. This is really good for communities because this is their operations funds. So, the more sales tax we collect, the better it is for our community and our infrastructure and our basic needs as a city," McKinney said.

"It just needs to be fair for everybody. For the small businesses, the large businesses you know if everything was just fair across the board that would be great. It would give us a chance," Key said.

Congress will talk about the bill at the end of November. This issue has been at the state level for years. Even Amazon is asking the federal government to step in and come to a decision.

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