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MO Tax Measure Would “Level Playing Field” For Brick-&-Mortar Retailers

Brett Blume
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March 21, 2011-MO state representative Margo McNeil (right) discusses HB 278, a mesaure she's sponsoring this session that she says would "level the playing field" for brick-and-mortars when it comes to collecting tax for online sales by out-of-state businesses.  (KMOX/Brett Blume)

March 21, 2011-MO state representative Margo McNeil (right) discusses HB 278, a mesaure she’s sponsoring this session that she says would “level the playing field” for brick-and-mortars when it comes to collecting tax for online sales by out-of-state businesses. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

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UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. (KMOX) -  State legislators trying to pass a bill this session that they say would “level the playing field” for brick-and-mortar retailers met with store owners in University City Monday morning.

“Our brick-and-mortar businesses are the heart and soul of our communities,” said Margo McNeil, a Democrat representing the 78th District in the Missouri House of Representatives.  “They are the people who provide the majority of jobs for the state of Missouri.”

But store owners in University City’s Loop district who met with McNeil and fellow Democratic State Representative Rory Ellinger complained that they’re forced to collect sales tax on purchases made in their stores, while online merchants rarely pay.

“We can’t compete with remote, online e-traders who basically have a business model that is based on tax evasion,” said Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of Left Bank Books. 

State Rep. Ellinger called it only fair to require online sellers to be required to pay the same taxes on sales that brick-and-mortars are forced to pay.

“These sales are already levied,” he pointed out.  “They are not new taxes.  This is an effort to recoup on assessed tax that is not being collected, and to level the playing field.”

Both lawmakers estimated that by not enforcing the online tax, Missouri is losing out on a potential windfall of more than $400 million annually, at a time when severe budget cuts are being made in Jefferson City due to a lack of revenue.

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The measure is HB 278

 

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