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Group Pushes For Local Sales Tax For Web Retail

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A group calling itself Main Street Fairness Coalition wants the Minnesota legislature to immediately approve a bill this session that would force Internet retailers to charge their customers local or state sales taxes.

On Thursday, the group gathered along storefronts on picturesque Grand Street in St. Paul to make their point, that in many cases, Internet retailers get a huge price advantage over their “brick and mortar” counterparts.

Some say not paying state sales tax for goods and services purchased over the Internet is a victimless crime. However, members of the coalition believe that if one makes a habit of buying “tax-free” on the Internet, you not only victimize the state of Minnesota, but you take money out of the pockets of your friends and neighbors.

“All retailers collect and remit sales taxes, not only that we pay property taxes,” said Brian Steinhoff with the Minnesota Small Business Association. “We employ nearly 800,000 people in the state of Minnesota. We sponsor the little league teams, we sponsor the hockey teams.  We sit on the chamber boards and yet we get treated unfairly when it comes to the tax codes.”

Steinhoff then introduced Roberta Bonoff, the owner of Creative Kidstuff, who outlined a typical scenario.

“Customers would come into our store, ask questions of our staff, preview the product, then go home and buy it online since they can get it cheaper from Amazon,” said Bonoff.

The group wants the legislature to close the tax loophole, which basically gives online a seven percent cost advantage off the top.

“If we can just level the playing field, it would be fair for all of us, no matter where you are buying your product. We are not talking about a new tax,” said Bonoff.

The group would like the bill, which enjoys bipartisan support, passed this session.

“That would be fabulous,” added Bonoff.

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