Local retailers continue call for Internet sales tax
By Kevin Rader, WTHR political reporter - bio | email
Monday is known as one of the busiest shopping days online.
Local retailers say it's not fair that online retailers don't charge sales tax.
Many people call today "Cyber Monday," the day when online shopping deals are at their best.
But the biggest day of cyber sales isn't always a win-win deal.
"It's definitely a big advantage to go online and shop," said John Diener.
Diener likes to shop online. For him, surfing the web for deals makes dollars and sense.
"Just a lot more convenient, comes directly to my home, I know it's guaranteed and insured. I don't have to worry about vehicles, sitting in traffic, all the things that come with the lovely holidays," Diener said.
Competition makes for better business, but local businesses just want to make sure the competition is fair. Online-only retailers like Amazon.com don't collect sales tax, local businesses do.
"The competition is not fair when the state has picked winners and losers, giving online retailers a seven percent advantage over brick and mortar stores," said Grant Monahan, Indiana Retail Council.
"It doesn't make a lick of sense," said Gary Thrapp.
Thrapp has run G. Thrapp Jewelers at 56th and Illinois for 28 years. He sees the idea of taxing online-only retailers as an opportunity for the state.
"When cities and states are in a deficit kind of situation, which seems to be perpetual, they ignore that," he said.
Just last week, the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute completed a study along with Ball State University that indicated how much tax revenue the state could generate by making online retailers pay state sales tax.
"So the answer is, Indiana is losing anywhere, from Internet commerce, and the answer is, it's around $77-100 million a year," said John Ketzenberger, Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute.
Even shoppers who like a good bargain, like Diener, know when the playing field is not level.
"It is not fair as a retailer for them not to pay taxes. I agree with that. They should pay sales tax," he said.
Diener, however, makes a very keen observation. He says Amazon.com won't pay sales tax - Indiana consumers would.