Mayor, business owner push for Marketplace Fairness Act

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin hopes the city's support of the Marketplace Fairness Act will help push it through Congress.

Amazon is set to start collecting state sales tax for Arkansans in March. Before now, it was the buyer's responsibility to self-report their purchases and pay the sales tax on them.

"It's my understanding that the state of Arkansas alone is probably losing around $6 to $4 million dollars," Perrin said.

He doesn't think it's fair that communities are losing tax dollars to online sales.

"It's really not fair in my opinion to do that and then a mom and pop store comes in and puts a business here, they have to buy real estate, they got to real estate taxes and all of that," Perrin said. "But yet you're sitting in, let's say Minneapolis, and you're going to send something to my house and so, therefore, they don't have that cost."

He hopes that lawmakers will see the support for this act from the City of Jonesboro and continue to push the issue.

"So I can say, hey, you know and I know that this is really hurting rural America," Perrin said.

"Online is a convenience, I get it," Ted Herget, owner of Gearhead Outfitters said. "But it's also convenient to know you have police just a 911 call away and it's convenient that fire is a 911 call away."

Herget is thankful that Amazon is now paying state taxes, but he hopes more money spent online will soon start coming back to the Jonesboro community.

"I'm just ready to see it kind of catch up," he said. "I'm ready for every product that comes into this town, I want them to pop that 8.5% sales tax because you win, I win, my kids win, the whole city wins."

He said this is an effort all residents should get behind, even if it doesn't sound great for them at first.

"I understand you hear the word tax, people cringe, but for me this tax, I mean it's spent here and it stays here," Herget said. "And we all reap the benefit."

Perrin said people are more aware of this problem now than when the fairness act was first introduced in 2011 and it's more likely to pass now.

"A lot of these companies were fighting us, saying 'we're not going to do that, we don't want to do that, or we don't have the software to keep up with that,'" Perrin said. "Well, that's changed and so now they're saying, you know, 'we can probably do that.'"

There are also two separate bills in the Arkansas legislature aimed at collecting sales tax from out of state retailers without a physical presence in the state.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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