Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Senators slam Main Street

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch abruptly changed their well-publicized “leanings” Monday and voted against the Marketplace Fairness Act that would allow states to place sales taxes on purchases made over the Internet.

Had other senators not carried the day and sent the bill on to the House, Crapo and Risch’s crash to the “no” side of the 74-20 vote would leave no chance of evening a horribly lopsided playing field.

A spokesman for Crapo said that the senators wanted more changes and protections for small businesses. Crapo’s online written statement indicated that he wanted the bill to engineer some kind of corresponding tax reduction on the other side of the ledger if a state levies taxes on online sales.

Risch’s position was murkier. It wasn’t enough that the bill exempted online businesses that generate less than $1 million annually—even though Main Street businesses with the same revenues are required by law to pay state sales taxes.

The senators’ votes left Main Street business owners hurt and scratching their heads. Why should they pay state sales taxes while online competitors do not? Why don’t the senators have the same protective instincts about brick-and-mortar Main Street businesses and their owners, who vote in elections for these senate seats every four years?

Main Street businesses are upstanding, tax-paying, financial pillars of their states and communities. If Idaho’s senators think it’s OK to let online businesses operate without the burden of state sales taxes, then they should support relieving every business of the taxes and finding another way, a fair way, for the state to raise money to pay for education and other programs now supported by state sales taxes.

Main Street awaits their proposals.

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