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Local Business Owners Visit D.C.

A couple of local business owners recently traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with Idaho lawmakers.

Three Idaho Falls business owners flew out to D.C. to persuade legislators to pass a federal bill that would encourage states to enact an online sales tax.

More than 60 “Main Street” retailers from across the country traveled to the nation’s capital to meet with their state’s lawmakers and ask for their support of the Marketplace Fairness and Marketplace Equity acts; legislation that business owners say would close the online sales tax “loophole” and level the playing field for all retailers.

“This wouldn’t be a mandate from the feds saying that we have to do this, it would just be stating that we (local business owners) could charge online sales tax if the state chooses to (allow it); so it’s not a new tax or anything, and it doesn’t interfere with state’s rights,” said Richard Napier, owner of Idaho Mountain Trading.

Local business owners say that they have about a 6 percent disadvantage when customers choose to purchase online instead of in a store.

Vice President of Farr Jewelers in Idaho Falls, Dirk Farr, was one of the local business owners who traveled to D.C. Farr says a sale is a sale, no matter where it happens, and all sales should be taxed the same.

“We (local business owners) feel that everyone should be able to compete on their own benefits and not have any disadvantages. So it’s really just a fairness issue,” said Farr.

Lawmakers in support of both bills say the “loophole” is costing jobs on Main Street while short-changing state budgets by an estimated $11 billion in uncollected sales taxes annually.

It is estimated that the state of Idaho loses between $30 to $35 million every year due to the lack of online sales tax.

Currently, the Marketplace Fairness Act is being considered by the U.S. Senate, and the Marketplace Equity Act is under review by the House.

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