EDITORIAL: E-Taxes Promise Fairness To Retailers, States
Dec 10, 2012 (Times Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A recent email from the office of Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, was timely, given online sales in the weeks leading to Christmas.
Rep. Womack spoke to members of the National Conference of State Legislatures last week on the subject of e-fairness legislation, according to the news release.
The problem: A 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision exempted online retailers from collecting sales taxes in states where they have no physical presence, according to a July report in the Times Record. The court, however, noted that Congress could enact legislation to require it.
"For over a decade, states have sought a resolution to the online-sales tax dilemma," Womack told legislators, according to the news release. "And, this year, e-fairness is understandably the top legislative priority of the National Conference of State Legislatures and the National Governors Association. Why Because over 99 percent of individuals in the 46 states that have sales and use tax laws in statute do not realize that they are -- by law -- already required to report and remit the taxes on purchases made over the Internet."
That leaves both brick-and-mortar retailers and states at a disadvantage. Some shoppers look at the lack of tax collection as a discount for shopping online. But that doesn't just give online retailers an advantage over physical stores; it shorts states on revenue to which they are legally entitled. That's a blow that's hard to take in times as tough as these.
The Marketplace Fairness Act in the Senate and the Marketplace Equity Act in the House of Representatives are two possible federal solutions to the problem. There are others under consideration.
But clearly, this is an issue that needs to be addressed. In the meantime, if you've made an Internet purchase, the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration has a one page form that can be downloaded to submit with your sales tax payment. Go to www.dfa.arkansas.gov, select sales and use tax from the "find a form list," then select Consumer Use Tax Form/CU-1.
That's the honor system.
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