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Blunt Supports Online Sales Tax Measure for States

Sen. Roy Blunt cosponsors measure allowing states to collect online sales taxes. Would this be considered a tax hike by the Republican?

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.

The Marketplace Fairness Act would close what the Republican from southwest Missouri describes as a tax loophole, leveling the playing field between local and online retailers.

Many local merchants are disadvantaged because they must collect sales taxes, Blunt said in a statement, while many online retailers do not.

Missouri is expected to lose $210 million in uncollected revenue in 2012 due to failure to capture taxes on online-based purchases, according to the Missouri Budget Project.

"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."

Will Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, support the measure?

"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.

This brings me back to a . I wanted to know if Blunt, who signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge put out by Americans for Tax Reform, would be breaking the pledge.

Grover Norquist, president of the taxpayer advocacy group, told Missouri Journal it is too early to comment with any certainity since the legislation is not final and will likely be amended.

"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. 

By Brian R. Hookbrhook@brhook.com, (314) 482-7944

Hook is editor of Missouri Journal, which covers the economy across the Show-Me State. For more Missouri news, sign up for a newsletter and follow Missouri Journal on Twitter and Facebook.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Wm November 29, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Yes. blunt is a career politician and should have never been the Mo. Candidate for Senator. He did a poor job as a Congressman and the powers of the Mo. Republican cOmm. Set him up for a promotion?

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