2:15 PM EST, November 29, 2012
Contrary to what a recent letter writer may think ("Internet sales tax will hurt small businesses," Nov. 18), collection of state sales taxes on online retail transactions will be a boon to small businesses in Maryland. Small businesses currently face unfair and detrimental competition from online-only retailers who exploit the loophole in our nation's sales tax laws to avoid collecting and remitting state sales taxes.
The current legislation — the Marketplace Fairness Act and the Marketplace Equity Act — before Congress is designed to eliminate the 6 percent price disadvantage and level the playing field for small, in-state businesses. It also provides an exemption for small online sellers to make sure that they are not unduly burdened by compliance requirements.
The argument that there is no simple way for online retailers to calculate the sales tax for buyers in different cities and states no longer holds true. There is free software readily available to seamlessly manage sales tax collection across all jurisdictions. And before we know it there will probably be an app for it as well.
With the holiday shopping season in full swing, it is a good time to contemplate the contributions of brick-and-mortar retailers to communities across Maryland. It is also a good time for Congress to take action to make sure that this is the last time they are forced to compete on an unlevel playing field. It's the right thing to do.
Thomas C. Barbuti, Baltimore
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