Opinion: Let’s give local business level playing field with out-of-state companies

  

With spring comes an iconic image: teams of youth baseball or softball gathering for pizza after a game, jerseys adorned with the logos of local businesses that support these tried and true traditions.

But while Missouri’s businesses contribute to their communities through jobs, sponsorships, and community partnerships, our state’s tax structure puts them at a competitive disadvantage compared to out-of-state retailers that sell to Missourians.

Local Mom & Pop shops across Missouri are required to collect sales taxes every time a purchase is made, yet out-of-state online retailers aren’t. Although sales taxes may be owed, under our current law, it’s the burden of taxpayers to track their purchases and remit what they owe. While our roads and bridges get the wear and tear of delivery, money leaves the state and our communities see little from these companies in return for their business.

Fortunately, legislators have the power to level the playing field – and to protect the resources our communities need to prosper.

The “Wayfair Fix,” named after a recent United States Supreme Court decision, would implement the specific mechanisms needed to collect taxes from out-of-state retailers.
Not only would this remove the competitive advantage currently enjoyed by companies based out-of-state, but it would provide much-needed resources to our local communities.

Missouri has been missing out on these resources for far too long. Legislators could use these funds for school transportation, sending more dollars into our classrooms.

They could restore prescription drug assistance to struggling seniors, letting families across the state breathe easier. Or they could use this revenue to support plans to fix roads and bridges using an already cash-strapped General Revenue budget.

It’s important to note that none of this involves any new taxes. Implementing the Wayfair Fix simply puts into place a way to collect tax that is already owed, but rarely paid.

Efforts to use funds that were already owed to our state to further cut taxes are shortsighted and irresponsible, particularly at a time when our budget situation is volatile, at best, and lawmakers are looking at an additional $100 million in General Revenue spending for roads and bridges.

Legislators owe it to their constituents to work towards a state that offers strong schools, safe roads and bridges, and a safety net that’s there when families falter.

By enacting the “Wayfair Fix” without irresponsibly throwing away the much-needed revenue, legislators can level the playing field for Missouri businesses and promote the quality of life our families need to build a better tomorrow.