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Local Retailers Want Online Tax To Level Playing Field

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Jon Delano Jon Delano
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Millions of people buy all kinds of things online from electronics to jewelry — with eBay and Overstock being two popular sites for online shopping.

Up to now, sellers on those out-of-state sites have avoided charging sales tax. However, late Monday, the senate passed a bill, which would allow states to collect sales tax on internet purchases.

“We have the authority to require any company with nexus or physical presence in the state to collect and remit sales tax,” said Elizabeth Brassell, spokesperson for the Pa. Department of Revenue.

“But we don’t have authority to require out-of-state companies to collect sales tax on sales to Pennsylvania consumers,” she said.

So while Best Buy with stores here and Amazon with distribution centers here must charge Pa. sales tax for online purchases, eBay didin’t have to until now.

A bi-partisan bill in Congress supported by Gov. Tom Corbett will change that.

“If the Marketplace Fairness Act becomes federal law and the state of Pennsylvania then opts in with our own supporting legislation, it could generate $200 million a year more in sales tax revenue,” Brassell told KDKA money editor Jon Delano prior to the bill passing.

“It’s not a good idea at all. You already got to pay the taxes on and fees on the credit card that you’re using to pay online, so, no, not at all,” said Ron Roman of Bellevue.

“I like it without the sales tax, but if they put a sales tax it might slow it down I think,” added Louis Edmunds of Avalon.

Nobody likes to pay taxes on online purchases, but local business retailers say it’s really unfair because if you go into their stores, you do have to pay taxes, creating a competitive disadvantage.

Take Fodi Jewelers in Bellevue, now in business for almost 30 years.

“My main competition on name brand items, especially watches, is online competition that does not have to pay sales tax,” noted owner Mike Fodi.

Fodi said earlier that Congress needs to pass this soon.

“It’s a long overdue idea,” Fodi said. “Our industry has been fighting for it for a number of years.  It would make the playing field more level than it is currently.”

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