Amazon is the new Walmart when it comes to killing small retailers.
For 18 years the online megastore has crowded in on sales from bookstores to large items including appliances and furniture.
Its success is so huge that it’s now backing a bill to require Internet retailers to charge sales tax — a dramatic change from its previous lobbying efforts.
The reason Amazon can support the legislation is that it sees an opportunity to sell services that help online retailers figure the cumbersome tax structure individual to each state.
It’s also learned that in states that collect sales taxes for Internet sales, Amazon has weathered the tax quite nicely. Timely delivery, free shipping and a great selection, it seems, are worth the additional charge in sales taxes.
In states that don’t mandate the tax, customers are to self-report all online purchases and pay the sales tax accordingly on their state income tax statements.
And pigs fly.
The new law would require businesses making $1 million or more must collect the sales tax on merchandise.
According to the National Council of State Legislatures, it’s estimated states are losing out on more than $23 billion in sales tax revenue from online sales.
For states like Kansas that are hurting for funds, that sales tax money could help avoid raising taxes elsewhere.
THE ANTI-TAX cabal such as Grover Nordquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and the Heritage Foundation are vocal opponents to levying the Internet sales tax.
Any tax is a bad tax, is their motto.
Those in favor of smaller government also find themselves on the wrong side of the aisle when it comes to creating a new law on the books.
Nordquist maintains the law would create an unequal playing field by giving poor states such as Kansas an unfair advantage to states such as Washington, headquarters of Amazon.
In a “Let them eat cake,” attitude, Nordquist said the current system provides customers the best services at the lowest cost.
TRUTH IS, local retailers play a tremendous role in keeping small town America alive.
Iola’s downtown square continues to draw visitors and prospective residents because of its attractive and vibrant stores.
Downtown merchants also can learn from those online such as Amazon that satisfying customers remains to be the calling card for business.
A good sales experience keeps customers coming back.
Big Internet retailers — remember, we’re talking only about businesses that have $1 million and more in profits — should have to collect sales taxes on their goods, especially if it helps make local retailers more competitive.
The Senate is likely to pass the measure come Monday, with House action to follow.
Don’t leave anything to chance.
Contact your representatives in Congress and tell them to vote yes on enforcing an Internet sales tax.
Your local merchant will thank you.