The Norman Transcript

Opinion

April 24, 2013

Online sales tax bill advances in Senate

NORMAN — Norman has weathered the economic recession better than many cities. Like all Oklahoma cities and towns, we rely heavily on sales tax revenue.

The recession came as more buyers turn to the Internet to purchase items and avoid paying local sales tax.

The Senate could change that this week. A vote on a bill giving states the authority to collect sales taxes on all online purchases is expected this week. The Marketplace Fairness Act passed a procedural test Monday, and President Obama has said he will sign the bill if it makes it through the Senate.

State and local governments think they could reap as much as $11 billion per year in additional tax revenue.

That money was technically supposed to be paid in by consumers on the honor system. Stores that didn’t have a physcial presence in the state didn’t have to collect the sales taxes.

Online retailers, who can often undercut retailers in pricing, say they don’t receive any services from the taxing entities, so why should they have to pay in? But the buyers receive services like police and fire.

Brick-and-mortar retailers say buying local helps the economy and pays for government services and education through property taxes.

Our mayor, some council members and our chamber of commerce have pushed for the legislation that levels the playing field for retailers.

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