Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Main Street Deserves a Level Playing Field

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 12.22.24 PMLouisiana has the third highest sales tax in the country, which is not the most conducive to shopping local. Our state has a combined rate of 8.85 percent sales tax, just below the 9.12 percent rate in Arizona and the 9.45 percent rate in Tennessee, according to the Tax Foundation, a conservative group that advocates for lower and more broad-based taxes. That’s enough to make me even start thinking about shopping online.

Thanks to a decades-old tax loophole, major online retailers enjoy a tremendous competitive advantage over the traditional brick-and-mortar stores, which is hurting small businesses across the country.  Currently many online-only retailers can avoid collecting sales taxes in most states. This gives them a major competitive edge over local retailers who do collect sales tax from customers. However, it is considered tax evasion to not pay taxes on online sales.  In Louisiana, taxpayers are asked to self-report how much they spent on online shopping, yet many rarely report or even have this information.

10891490_10155068905625234_3625332704100235218_nTaxing online purchases also protects small businesses.  Local businesses are the backbone of New Orleans’ economy. The Urban Conservancy’s  “The Independent Merchants and the New Orleans Economy Report” found local retailers return a total of 52 percent of their revenue to the local economy, compared to just 14 percent for the national chain retailers.

Last week StayLocal partnered with Greater New Orleans, Inc., and the Louisiana Retailers Association to host the first meeting of the Louisiana Coalition for E-Fairness. We plan to work with citizens, business owners, non-profits, government officials and others to help level the playing field for local businesses.

For more information about e-fairness check out: www.efairness.org



This entry was posted on February 11, 2015 by in VISTA Field Reports.



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