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Online sales taxes about 'fairness,' Georgia Chamber head says

Chris Clark, right, president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, speaks with State Rep. Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert, Wednesday morning at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Chris Clark, right, president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, speaks with State Rep. Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert, Wednesday morning at the Hilton Garden Inn.

ALBANY, Ga. — Chris Clark, the top executive of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, said during an Albany stop Wednesday that the online sales tax question facing Congress is about fairness.

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Clark, president of the Georgia Chamber, said that his organization advocates for all businesses but that he believes businesses should be operating on the same playing field.

“It’s about fairness. We don’t think its fair that one set of businesses have to do things one way and another has another set rules to follow,” Clark said. “What we want to do is help all of the businesses and what we’ve said over the last couple of years is that this needs to be a federal solution.”

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Should we force E-Tailers to remit online sales taxes?

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  • No 87%

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Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would allow states to compel online retailers to remit sales taxes for online purchases. The bill has sparked a debate among Americans whether online retailers should be forced to remit sales taxes like their brick-and-mortar competitors.

“There are no borders with business; it doesn’t matter whether there is a county line or a state line,” Clark said. “So for businesses to have one system out there is the right system to do.”

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 69 to 27 to back the measure, which pits brick-and-mortar stores like Wal-Mart Stores Inc and cash-hungry state governments against such Web retailers as eBay Inc and Republicans wary of new tax measures.

“Call me a conservative, but I believe the right approach to tax fairness is to reduce rates - not force higher rates onto others,” said Tom Graves, a House Republican from Georgia.

House Speaker John Boehner plans to send the bill to the House Judiciary Committee, a senior Republican aide said. That will mean hearings ahead. The Senate uncharacteristically bypassed this step.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte, a Republican, has reservations about the legislation, including its complexity and potential impact on small businesses, a spokeswoman said.

Backers of the measure include major traditional retailers Wal-Mart and Best Buy Co Inc, as well as e-tailing giant Amazon.com Inc, which wants to simplify its U.S. state sales tax payments.

Opponents include many other online merchants such as eBay , Overstock.com Inc and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist. Lawmakers from states without sales taxes - like Montana, Oregon and New Hampshire - largely oppose the measure.

States that charge sales tax have largely been unable to require e-tailers to collect it from purchasers unless the e-tailer had a physical presence in the state. Otherwise, consumers are supposed to pay the tax, but very few do.

Some states have made separate arrangements with Amazon on the issue, while others have not.

The bill would let states require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax on purchases made over the Internet, even if the e-tailer has no physical presence in the purchaser’s state.

The bill would allow states to do this but not require them to do so. It would also exempt merchants with online annual out-of-state sales of $1 million or less.

Reuters News Service contributed to this report.

Comments

Sister_Ruby_Two 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I honestly hate taxes but I do agree that online sales should be taxed in order to give local business a fair playing field. It's getting harder and harder to run your own local retail business these days.

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waltspecht 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I admit that I make many purchases off the internet once I calculate my savings potential in comparison to purchasing locally. Part of that calculation is definately sales tax. However, it is what kills local brick and mortor businesses. So making the purchaser pay the same taxes on internet sales as local sales only makes sense. There is still another wide discrepancy. Many internet businesses have no storefront to support. Others are simply a middle man forwarding your purchase through a wholesaler after adding a profit margin, but never maintaining an actual inventory. It is business, and maybe the wave of the future. With governments cash strapped, this is a lost source of income that needs to be addressed.

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rightasrain 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Federal and State politicians can define this anyway they want, but it's just another tax to build the coffers. If these whiney "box stores" don't like the way things are now, they should close the brick/mortar liability and sell over the internet. Hopefully the House will stand against this additional tax and not pass the legislation. But then, tax happy Rynders will just introduce a bill in the State legislature to rape Georgia citizens for more tax money.

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VietVet1 11 months, 2 weeks ago

It's coming...... local stores will also be able to charge for shipping/handling fees.

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FryarTuk 11 months, 2 weeks ago

They pass it along. You can believe that.

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gladileftalbany 11 months, 2 weeks ago

If you live in a non sales tax state like I do this idea seems more and more preposterous.Its going to cost businesses in non sales tax states more money to get set up on an internet tax. Greed is the name of this game.

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jM69 11 months, 2 weeks ago

This is a mail/phone order sales tax as well. STOP reporting it as an "Internet sales tax! Singling out the Internet is what allowed this to happen. The Internet is just a communication method that provides numerous benefits, but there's no reason Amazon couldn't print out an order form or give you a phone number with a cart ID when it came time to check out.

This bill applies to cable shopping channels, informercials, TV commercials, mail-order catalogs, and order forms in the back of manuals, just the same. REPORT THAT!

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agirl_25 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I guess I will have to ask the retailer first..."Do you do less than a million dollars a year in retail sales?" since the bill exempts them. Right? I order some things from outside the US and guess I will keep doing it since they charge no sales tax. This includes medicines for my dog from Australia (same exact medicine sold in the US, but cheaper), and cosmetic products from England (again, same exact thing but cheaper) even with postage added. I think if there is a big enough backlash from consumers they will think again about the bill. Remember how nuts people went when the new Coke came out in the 90's? They went nuts and Coke pulled it.

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Thurman 11 months, 2 weeks ago

A tax is a tax, is a tax, no matter how it is written. This new law will place a sale onto items which are sold outside of the respective state, a/k/a "out-of-state tax, in which one lives. So--IF a Georgia resident crosses over into bordering a state (South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, or Florida) and makes purchase from a "brick/mortar" store will the Georgia resident/buyer have to pay Georgia a sales tax when crossing the border back into Georgia? I see no difference. I buy via the internet because the items I wish to purchase are NOT available in this area. Case in point: Two motorcycle tires--NOT available anywhere south of Lilburn, Ga. Buying the two tires + sales tax as required in Ga., + shipping vs. buying online = more than a $100 savings for me. Local business wanted to tag on a "special order" surcharge for these to order them. Buying via the internet also saves me fuel cost as I do not have to drive somewhere to find a particular item. Now my fuel cost savings will be sent to Georgia as a disguised sales tax.

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agirl_25 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Thurman, the exact same reason I buy so much online is because I don't have to put up with driving around trying to find the product. Or, talking to some moron on the phone, asking if they have the product, driving 100 miles round trip to purchase it only to find out the moron did not have the product after all but would be happy to order it. I have bought everything online, from a Dodge Ram pickup to a teeny tiny blub for my microwave oven. Oh yes, Thurman, I love the "special order surcharge" too.

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cratergs 11 months, 2 weeks ago

What's in for us other than paying more taxes? The states that are clamoring for this are already broke because they spend more than they take in (much like the example of our Federal Government). Give a politician a nickel and their eyes glaze over and they spend a dime. Now, if they want to reduce the State or Federal income tax rate to collect more sales tax, I'm on board.

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