The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 1, 2013

Unfair advantage

Everyone should be on same sales tax playing field, including e-commerce

— A recent study conducted by the University of Tennessee says the state of West Virginia missed out on more than $50 million in e-commerce sales tax revenues last year.

Yep, $50 million.

What could state lawmakers be doing with that “lost” money?

Plenty, especially during the current budget crackdown.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is proposing that the state begin enacting the 6 percent sales tax collection on e-retailers that have facilities within our boundaries.

For quite some time now the bricks-and-mortar businesses in West Virginia have been complaining that online competitors have a distinct and unfair advantage driven by this tax loophole.

It’s time for that to change.

Other states across the country, and now Congress, are in the midst of taking similar steps to collect e-retail sales taxes.

Online retailers have been skirting this issue for several years now and have locked themselves into legal battles attempting to avoid sales taxes. Nobody can blame them for that. However, what’s good for one should be good for all, whether you’re walking in the door and making a physical purchase or logging on and buying products over the Internet.

Tomblin’s legislation has been sent to both the Senate and House Finance Committees for consideration.

We think our legislators need to expedite the process to make sure all retail businesses are on the same playing field when it comes to collecting taxes and sending them to the state.