By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
A St. Joseph state representative says a move by the legislature to require online retailers to collect the state sales tax is more about fairness than additional state revenue.
Rep. Bill Falkner, the former St. Joseph mayor, says no one really knows how much revenue taxing Internet sales will bring into the state. He says he does know, however, that fairness dictates that the state require online retailers to collect the sales tax just as it does of traditional retailers.
“We are the last state to come aboard with Wayfair,” Falkner tells St. Joseph Post. “I’m glad for our businesses, because we took a step to protect businesses that are located in our state and I think that’s the biggest takeaway from this Wayfair bill.”
Wayfair is named after the U.S. Supreme Court case that opened the door for states to require online retailers to collect the state sales tax. Though the Supreme Court decision allowed states to begin collecting the sales tax on Internet sales, Missouri wrestled with the issue for years before acting this past session.
Local governments will be able to reap benefits from the legislation as well. Falkner points out that under the legislation, local governments will have to approve ordinances to require collection of the local tax. Both St. Joseph and Buchanan County have approved the required ordinances.
“We’re in line to start collecting it when it comes into effect,” Falkner says.
Falkner says the additional tax revenue, whatever it turns out to be, will help the state and local governments, but he says more money isn’t really the point of the legislation.
Falkner insists the real point is fairness.
“Everybody’s guessing at the amount,” Falkner says. “I don’t think it’s going to be as much as what people think, but I think it will help the local businesses compete on a level playing field.”