ST. PAUL, Minn. - Bills are moving through the Minnesota House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate that could require online retailers to collect sales taxes. For the owner of Baby Grand in St. Paul, this movement is something he's been waiting for, for years.
"It's an inequity that just does not make sense," owner Joe Roedler said. The measure in the U.S. Senate would give states the option to require online retailers to collect sales taxes. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) is a co-sponsor of the amendment.
"You have to have an even playing field with the small business. If they have to collect taxes, then the internet should too, and that's all it's about," Senator Klobuchar told KARE 11.
Roedler says he sees plenty of "showrooming" at his stores in St. Paul and Hopkins, where he sells baby and infant care products. "Showrooming" means a consumer comes into the store to see, test and research a product only to go home and buy it on the internet. "Somebody says hey, you know what, I can instantly save another 7.5 percent that we're not able to offer. That's the disadvantage we're talking about," the owner explained.
An online sales tax measure is also moving through the Minnesota House of Representatives.
"Who's leveling the playing field for consumers and for working families? Who's looking out for them?" Republican Representative Sarah Anderson of Plymouth wondered. Rep. Anderson is a member of the House Tax Committee.
"It's going to increase their (the consumer) cost of shopping, and given the economy, I just think it's the wrong time to increase prices for consumers," Rep. Anderson noted.
Small business owners say they need a way to compete with the online marketplace.
"We're actually put at a disadvantage to those who offer little to nothing back to our community, and they're our main competition," Joe Roedler concluded.
Senator Klobuchar expects the amendment she's co-sponsoring to pass through the Senate next week with significant bi-partisan support. The measure moving through the Minnesota House is attached to the tax bill right now.
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