Letters and Opinion

Online retailers should collect taxes

October 16, 2010

In response to [an Oct. 11 letter to the editor] by Marc Oestreich, “Online shopping isn’t the problem,” the comments made regarding taxes on Internet sales miss the mark. The statements made by David Simon were factual and not “inflammatory.” Further, this inequity will not be corrected by reducing current sales tax rates. Reducing sales tax rates, without requiring collection on Internet sales, will do nothing to level the playing field for all retailers.

The Internet sales tax initiative advocated by a number of states does not propose any new tax, but instead seeks to apply the sales-tax laws uniformly and fairly to all sales that occur within a state, regardless of whether they occur in a brick-and-mortar store or through the Internet. States are failing to collect sales taxes on a number of Internet sales for the same goods that consumers buy in brick-and-mortar stores, where the sales tax is collected and paid. Those same brick-and-mortar stores also pay real estate taxes and employ thousands of our fellow Hoosiers.

This is not just a matter of fairness. It is the law in most states that consumers pay sales taxes on Internet and catalog purchases. In Indiana, consumers are required to report these transactions, and pay sales tax, as part of their annual income-tax-return filings. Existing technology can be used to assess and collect these taxes on Internet sales when they occur, which is what brick-and-mortar retailers do every day, and eliminate the need to rely on Indiana taxpayers to report the sales at year end.

Simon Property Group’s model does not depend upon the failure of online retailers. We compete with all forms of retailing, whether online or otherwise. We simply feel, as do many state legislators, that, regardless of where consumers buy their goods, sales taxes should be collected and paid on transactions when they are made.

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Jim Barkley

General counselSimon Property Group
 

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