Congress is currently moving forward with a Senate bill that could place sales taxes on buyers who place orders for items housed out of state. This proposed law applies to e-commerce sites, and the main goal of this online sales tax is to generate revenue for cash-strapped state governments in jurisdictions where online retailers are headquartered. The bill has its opponents among online retail giants such as eBay, and it also has supporters among the President and a number of state government officials.
Only online retailers that gross more than $1 million per year in sales will be subject to this online sales tax. Shoppers at large online retailers such as Amazon will see slightly higher bills for each order they place, and the tax will also apply to brick-and-mortar retailers who sell items online. A few of these vendors include Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart and many others.
Proponents of this online sales tax Senate bill argue that it will level the commerce playing field for both physical store locations and online retailers. Some believe that online vendors have had an unfair competitive advantage of being free from such sales taxation until now. According to this viewpoint, having a set of laws that taxes both types of sellers equally is considered a fair rule of doing business in the digital age. Depending on the individual taxes rates in different geographic regions, some states could have an online sales tax of 7% per purchase while others could have one as high as 9%.
This weekend, shoppers in the state of Massachusetts will be getting a sales tax holiday on August 13 and 14, with a respite from the usual 6.25% sales tax 2011. This is the seventh time a tax-free weekend has been held in the state since 2004, and backers hope that consumers will be lured into the stores to spend in spite of the bleak economy.
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue says shoppers saved almost twenty million dollars during the 2010 tax holiday.
A representative of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, John Hurst, says this tax 2011 holiday will help low income families with important purchases at this time of year. At $2.500, the cap in Massachusetts is more generous than that in many other states.
In Florida, the sales tax holiday in 2010 increased tax revenues by seven million dollars, because of more sales of taxable items. A study funded by the Florida Retail Federation found that August sales were $293 million more than they would have been if the sales tax holiday had not been in effect.
Rick McAllister of the Retail Federation says, “This works out great for everyone concerned. Shoppers win because the prices are lower, and the stores win because they make more sales. The state is a winner too because this tax holiday really provides an economic boost.”
The state Tax commission of Oklahoma says the sales tax holiday of 2010 saved consumers almost seven million dollars in sales tax.
Sales tax holidays are catching on across the United States in recent years. Seventeen states have tax 2011 holidays this year, usually during the month of August to help parents stock up on children`s clothing and school supplies.