While insisting it is not a new tax, Sen. Roy Blunt is backing a measure that will allow states to collect sales taxes from online retailers.
Many local merchants are disadvantaged because they must collect sales taxes, Blunt said in a statement, while many online retailers do not.
"We applaud Sen. Blunt for his leadership on the Marketplace Fairness Act," said Amy Blouin, executive director of the progressive public-policy organization based in St. Louis. "This legislation is truly about leveling the playing field."
"There really isn't enough information for us to weigh in on this proposal at this time," said Scott Holste, press secretary for the governor. There are also no estimates available from the state's budget office on how much revenue this measure might bring into Missouri.
Technically, consumers in Missouri owe use taxes on the goods they buy online, but this is difficult to enforce and few people comply, said Christine Harbin, research manager at the American Legislative Exchange Council, an association of nearly 2,000 state legislators from across the country.
"Internet businesses don't have a physical presence in the state, which historically has meant that they don't have to pay sales taxes," Harbin told Missouri Journal. "Complying with so-called Amazon taxes would place a big burden on small Internet retailers. They would have to upgrade their accounting systems and track state and local sales tax rates, which are very complicated."
It is about helping local retailers, Blunt said in his statement, stressing it is not about raising revenue.
"This is not a new tax, and it is not a move to allow government to use the Internet for a source of revenue -- which I oppose. This is simply a fairness issue to give states a chance to collect sales tax they are already owed in the way that works best for them, if they choose to do so," Blunt said.
"We are very concerned," Norquist said, adding that advocates of the online sales tax measure suggest the measure will lead to $23 billion in higher state sales taxes. "It smells like a tax hike."
I am not an expert on the tax code. But if consumers are not paying a tax, then they start paying a tax, wouldn't they be paying higher taxes? Therefore, let me repeat .
A tax increase is a tax increase is a tax increase.
Don't worry, though. I'm not against the government raising revenue. In fact, it's mostly a semantics issue for me. Plus, for all of you who feel you are not paying your fair share in taxes, in my next column I'll take you through the steps of how you can give more of your money to the government.