Don't delay tax requirement for online retailers
Saturday, April 20, 2013 5:00 AM
When the talk turns to economic development, the focus usually is on attracting new business. But, a major component of a state's economic vitality is taking care of existing businesses.
That's why the state Senate's vote to delay a change in the startup date to require Amazon.com to collect Indiana's 7 percent sales tax is the wrong move.
Senate Republicans headed off a scheduled vote Thursday on a bill requiring Amazon.com and some other online-only retailers to start collecting the state's sales tax this summer.
The bill that cleared the House by a wide margin on Monday was set to go before the full Senate until the Senate Republican caucus decided to have the measure pulled and sent to a House-Senate conference committee for negotiation of possible changes.
Provisions added to the bill in the House would require Amazon to start online sales tax collection in July, six months earlier than under a deal that former Gov. Mitch Daniels brokered with the company last year.
Senate majority leader Brandt Hershman, R-Lafayette, said Republican senators are concerned that Indiana's reputation with businesses would suffer if the Legislature interfered with the Amazon agreement.
Six more months of forcing local retailers to operate on an uneven playing field could spell doom for smaller operations forced to charge sales tax for similar items that online retailers offer.
We appreciate that some legislators are concerned about presenting a bad image to business prospects, but the Amazon deal was between former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Amazon. The legislature wasn't included in negotiations.
Perhaps the issue isn't as magnified in larger cities with many big-box retailers and chains. But in smaller communities across Indiana - Madison for example - many family-owned businesses don't need the extra competition.
Every day that a local retailer loses a customer to an online business is a day that damages our local economy.