by Max Brantley
Walmart is headquartered in Bentonville, after all. So it's not too surprising that U.S. Sen. John Boozman came out strongly today in a Talk Politics interview in favor of a law that would allow states to collect sales taxes on Internet sales. Walmart is a prime mover behind this effort, because, with brick-and-mortar operations in all 50 states, it always has the "nexus" that allows collection of sales taxes on even its Internet sales, as well as store sales. This gives web-only retailers without such a nexus a distinct advantage (about 6 percent in Arkansas).
Following is a news release praising Boozman from the ad hoc group Stand With Main Street, financed by retailers like Walmart, promoting Internet sales taxes. His interview should be on-line at Talk Business and Politics before long.
Funny thing. I'm with Walmart and Boozman on this one. Just to be clear: What Boozman endorses here is a tax on Internet retail purchases. T-A-X. On teabags and everything else.
And wait, there's more. Rob Moritz reports Dr. No also said in Little Rock today that he favored closing some tax loopholes (read produce more tax revenue) to reduce the deficit:
“It shouldn’t be that a company like GE, that makes billions of dollars in profit, doesn’t pay anything (in taxes),” the Republican senator from Rogers from Rogers said in Little Rock before scheduled tours of the Heifer International offices and the Arkansas Food Bank.
“I think we are all committed to … looking at the tax code, getting rid of the loopholes, things that we all agree need to be done, and then along with that you have to have real reductions in government spending.” Boozman said.
Today, business groups and local leaders across Arkansas applauded Senator John Boozman (R-AR) for announcing his support for Federal legislation that would level the playing field between online retailers and Arkansas businesses.
In an interview with Roby Brock of Talk Business & Politics, Senator Boozman stated that Congress should give the states the authority to require online retailers to collect sales taxes. Boozman stated, “We need to make it such that the states can allow themselves to do that, and then enforce it, and then go from there. But I do think right now it is not a level playing field and you know you look at rural America its very very difficult with the economy that we’ve got, but when you have this tremendous inequity it makes it that much harder.”
When asked by Brock if his comment meant that he would support a Federal bill allowing the states to deal with the problem, Boozman replied, “Yes, exactly. And I would encourage the states to deal with the problem.”
“Senator Boozman clearly understands that Arkansas businesses are at a distinct disadvantage as they try to compete with online retailers in an already difficult economy,” said Robert Coon, spokesman for the Alliance for Main Street Fairness (AMSF) in Arkansas. “We applaud the Senator for supporting legislation that would level the playing field and standing up for local businesses that are creating jobs and working to grow Arkansas’ economy.”
“Senator Boozman rightly recognizes that current government policy picks winners and losers in the marketplace, and the losers are small businesses throughout Arkansas. We’re thankful for his support for Arkansas businesses over out-of-state interests,” said Polly Martin, president of the Arkansas Grocers and Retail Merchants Association.
Don Zimmerman, executive director of the Arkansas Municipal League added, “Federal legislation dealing with this issue is vital for the health and vitality of Main Streets across Arkansas. Local retailers throughout our state are creating jobs, contributing to our state’s infrastructure through property and income taxes, and collecting sales taxes that fund important programs in our state and at the local level. By leveling the playing field, Congress will help revitalize small businesses that are struggling to make ends meet and get our local economies moving again. We thank Senator Boozman for his support on this critical issue.”