Maryland, Other States Wrestling With Online Sales

As previously reported, the Board of Revenue Estimates will be conducting a study to determine how much revenue is lost due to Internet sales and what can be done to recoup the money.  This issue was also a recent discussion topic at the Southern Legislative Conference held in Memphis. According to an article in the Tennessee Report:

Dr. William F. Fox, director of economics at the University of Tennessee’s Center for Business and Economic Research, joined North Carolina’s secretary of Revenue, David W. Hoyle, in a presentation, and the message they brought was that Amazon has managed to create an uneven playing field and that Internet sales in general are having a huge impact on state revenues.

Fox said his center’s research estimates the total of e-commerce is about $4 trillion, with about $46 billion in taxes due across the nation. He said most states surveyed are going to lose about $200 million or more this year due to uncollected taxes on e-commerce.

Not just a sales tax issue, an employment issue –

There was consistent growth in retail employment until about 2000, a rate of about 2 percent per year.

“Since 2002, retail employment in the U.S. has absolutely flattened out,” Fox said.

To put a sharper focus on it, Fox told lawmakers Walmart hires five workers for every million dollars in sales. Amazon hires one.

“This is an issue important to the fiscal condition of our states, but it’s also important to the operation of our economy and one that is costing real jobs every day on Main Street in the U.S. So it is absolutely a fairness issue. But it is an economic issue.”

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