Mixed reaction to proposed Internet sales tax

Amanda Moss Richmond County Daily Journal

December 5, 2013

Amanda Moss

Richmond County Daily Journal

The husband and wife team of Jackie Wallace and Sharon Haigler Wallace are a bit unsure about how the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 would affect their business.

The legislation is currently pending in Congress. This act would enable state governments to collect sales taxes from retailers that have no physical presence in the state in question — essentially allowing the state to collect taxes across state lines from companies that conduct business on the Internet.

“At first thought we are divided on whether or not the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 would be beneficial to us or not,” said Sharon Wallace in an email to The Richmond County Daily Journal.

Jackie Wallace added that “almost all of our business comes from out of state and even more so from international sales. Our customers are already having to pay increases in shipping costs which occurred last year.”

The new law would put catalog and online sellers on the same level as brick-and-mortar retailers, which have higher overhead than online-only retailers. Plus, advocates for such a bill argue that online-only retailers don’t add to the local economies, in the form of charitable contributions, as do brick-and-mortar operations.

Jackie Wallace disagrees with the idea that they do not add to the local economy. He described their business as one that also brings in money into Richmond County just as any other local business.

“The appeal of shopping online is not generated from customers who are trying to get out of paying taxes, but rather customers that shop online are looking for products that are not usually sold in stores within their communities,” said Sharon Wallace.

U.S. House Representative Richard Hudson was noncommittal and is reviewing the issue. In an email to The Richmond County Daily Journal, Hudson said he supported “simplifying our tax system so our businesses can grow, hire more people, and turn a profit. Our tax system should be fair, simple, and it should encourage competition. I understand the issues surrounding the Internet sales tax and am reviewing the set of principles Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, released earlier this fall.”

While it might be an issue of fairness for some advocates for the bill, Jackie Wallace is looking at it from a local business standpoint.

“Our concern is whether or not the Marketplace Fairness Act will cause more burden to fall on the businesses that are involved,” he said. “If business owners are having to spend more time doing paperwork, then realistically, that really does take away from the time actually spent earning an income.”