The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

April 28, 2013

States may soon collect sales tax for online buys

Senate bill advances to final vote in May; House prospects uncertain

— Online consumers in West Virginia might see their days of Internet shopping tax-free across the planet come to an end.

That, however, depends on the House of Representatives, after the U.S. Senate agreed 63-30 Thursday night to advance a measure that would force merchants to collect the sales tax from buyers in states where the purchases are made.

A final Senate vote doesn’t come until May 6.

Already, state lawmakers have moved to crack down on noncollection of sales taxes in a bill that cleared the Legislature to collect the levy, but only if the online transaction occurred within West Virginia’s borders.

For instance, a buyer in Beckley would have to pay taxes for merchandise bought via computer from a firm in Parkersburg.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., a strong advocate of the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, says the burden is on consumers to figure the taxes they owe and pay them, but most don’t since there exists no obligation on the part of the online companies.

“West Virginia brick-and-mortar businesses are collecting and remitting the tax to the state,” Steve Roberts, president of the state Chamber of Commerce, said Friday.

“Online retailers from anywhere else in the world — China or anywhere else — are not. It puts our West Virginia merchants at a disadvantage to have to pay a tax that Internet sales companies don’t have to pay. Our concern is that our small businesses are up against an uneven playing field.”

Roberts said he understands that some larger Internet companies favor passage of the proposed federal law, since it contains a provision that mandates simplification of tax rules within the 50 states.

This would make it easier for all in the business community to “know what is owed and how to turn it in,” the Chamber president said.

Roberts said about 60 percent of all workers in West Virginia are employed by a small business concern.

While he couldn’t say if any firms have actually been forced out of business because of the competition with online sellers, Roberts said the state is losing between $60 million and $80 million annually in consumer sales taxes.

To put that in perspective, the high end of that estimation is roughly what the West Virginia Turnpike takes in each year from tolls.

“It’s certainly possible that this creates a serious economic disadvantage for a West Virginia business that’s trying to compete with an Internet retailer,” Roberts said of the disparity in tax collections.

Roberts said the state Chamber agreed to join a coalition of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and chambers in other states to support the legislation.

Even if the bill survives the Senate, Roberts said it could face some tough sledding in the House, adding, “It faces a little bit of an uncertain future in the House.”

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • Suspect arrested, faces felony charges following shooting incident

    A Mercer County man was arrested and arraigned on felony charges Thursday after a domestic altercation led to a shooting incident in the Montcalm area of Mercer County.

    August 1, 2014

  • pittsburgh rally 5,000 rally in Pittsburgh against EPA Clean Power Plan

    The echo of people chanting, “Hey, hey, EPA, don’t take our jobs away” could be heard in downtown Pittsburgh Thursday. The voices came from about 5,000 United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) members and their families, along with other unions such as the Boilermakers and the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International (IBEW), marching through the streets.

     

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • Alpha plans to idle coal workers

    Approximately 1,100 employees at 11 Alpha Resources-affiliated surface mines, preparation plants and other support operations in southern West Virginia got notice late Thursday afternoon that their jobs could be in jeopardy.

     

    August 1, 2014

  • New rules to fight black lung disease kick in today

    Joe Massie has spent the last 22 years of his life fighting a disease that takes his breath away, a disease he contracted deep underground in the coal mines over a period of 30 years.  Black lung may take away his breath; it has not stilled his voice.

    August 1, 2014

  • target red Zero tolerance Target Red campaign hopes to lessen intersection crashes

    It happens every day. A driver hurries on his or her way to work, school or maybe nowhere in particular. Just ahead, a green light turns yellow. With a little more gas, the vehicle just might be able to clear the intersection before that light turns red. Or maybe not. 

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Alpha announces intention to lay off 1,100 surface miners

    The announcement dealt another blow to Appalachia's iconic, but dwindling, fossil fuel industry. The company said 2015 industry forecasts show Central Appalachian coal production will be less than half of its 2009 output. It's due to a combination of familiar factors, Alpha said: competition from cheaper natural gas, weak domestic and international markets and low coal prices.

     

    July 31, 2014

  • Justice mines have violations in 5 states

    A West Virginia coal billionaire has more than 250 pending violations at mining operations in Kentucky and four other states.

    July 31, 2014

  • VA Greenbrier clinic to remain closed

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Greenbrier County Community Based Outpatient Clinic will remain closed due to ongoing correction of environmental concerns. 

    July 31, 2014

  • prezarrested.jpg Protesters arrested at UMWA Rally in Pittsburgh

    After marching from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to the William S. Moorehead Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, around 15 United Mine Workers of America (UMW) leaders were arrested.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo 3 Stories

  • Mercer shooting sends one to hospital

     One person has been shot following an apparent altercation in the Montcalm area of Mercer County.

    July 31, 2014