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Retailers in Miss. Look to Benefit From Possible Online Sales Tax

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 08 May 2013 06:29am | comments
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Traditional retailers across Mississippi may soon benefit from online sales tax collections and many are wondering what it could mean for the state's bottom line. 
 
You can buy shoes, jewelry even furniture online tax free.  But those days of  tax free shopping on the Internet may soon be a thing of the past. That's because the U.S. Senate has passed a bill that would empower states to collect sales taxes for purchases made over the Internet. Crowell Armstrong, President of the Mississippi Retail Association says it's a move his organization welcomes.
 
"We think that it levels the playing field for all retail industry people, the 'mom and pops,' the big retail stores, we just think its the fairest thing to do," says Armstrong.   "The figures that I'm getting from the National Retail Federation is that the state of Mississippi is losing about $300 million dollars a year by not collecting the taxes on the Internet sates." 
 
Armstrong says the current tax disparity is turning some traditional stores into showrooms, where shoppers pick out items they like then buy them on the Internet to avoid sales taxes. 
 
"A lot of people go say to Best Buy or somewhere like that, look at a product, get the serial number off of it, see what all features they have on it, but they go home and buy it on the Internet and they're saving 7% right off the top here the longer we wait the worse it hurts the State of Mississippi," says Armstrong.
 
Marianne Hill,  senior economist for the states Institutions of Higher Learning says allowing states to collect sales taxes on Internet purchases is one way to sure up an ailing tax structure. 
"Retail sales are a declining portion of our economy, we need to be looking to other taxes, income tax for example, we collect less than we need it's also true of course that it's not fair that depending on where you purchase an item, you  may or may not be subject to the sales tax, so reform is needed," says Hill.
 
Opponents worry the bill gives states too much power to reach across state lines to enforce tax laws.  The bill now makes its way to the house of representative where it is expected to be strongly challenged. 
 

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