Small companies who want to sell their products online are in real trouble. Some Republican governors, eager to enrich their thinning state coffers, are endorsing a tax that would be imposed on products sold online.According to the National Conference of State Legislatures Strapped, states could reap as much as $23 billion in new annual revenue.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently agreed to allow Amazon to collect sales taxes on his state’s online purchases if they located distribution facilities there. He called taxation of online sales “an important issue to all the nation’s governors” and endorsed federal legislation that would allow states to tax online purchases.
Bigger chains are happy with the move. Scott Mason, a vice president at Lowe’s Cos, who noted that Lowe’s has a 5 percent to 10 percent price disadvantage compared with online rivals, exclaimed, “Having one of the most recognized and widely popular Republican leaders take this position gives other politicians comfort that the online sales tax is fair and helps state budgets in crisis.”
Until recently, consumers could purchase items online without paying sales tax, a strategy that enabled consumers to shop at local stores but then order the same products online so they could avoid the sales tax. In order to level the playing field, there has been a push to tax the online purchases so local business owners could compete.
The giant Amazon.com, which initially viewed with disfavor the idea of a sales tax, has decided that they now like the idea. Why? Because Amazon plans to offer same-day delivery, which will mean it needs more local warehouses, and it will then get hit by state taxes anyway.
Small online competitors are upset. Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice, a trade group representing eBay, Overstock.com and others, said, “Besides the Republican support, this position change is being driven by the millions of dollars being spent by the big-box retailers–and now Amazon–to push the sales tax through Congress.”
States that already have an online sales tax are Kansas, Kentucky, North Dakota, New York, Texas and Washington. Other state that are planning to join them are California (Sept. 2012), Indiana (Jan. 2014), Nevada (Jan. 2014), New Jersey (July 2013), South Carolina (Jan. 2016),Tennessee (Jan 2014) and Virginia (Sept 2013).