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Daily Comet: EDITORIAL: Leveling the playing field

February 18, 2013

The benefits of shopping locally are many.

By spending your dollars close to home, you are helping to support local businesses. You are helping to keep local people employed. You are keeping those dollars in our local communities.

Finally, you are paying local and state taxes - money that does everything from paying local teachers to building local levees.

Unfortunately, the tax benefits of shopping locally are also a competitive disadvantage for the businesses and workers depending on local sales for their livelihoods.

"Small retailers in Louisiana and across the nation are being put at a disadvantage against large, online businesses because of the nature of our tax code," said U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. "This legislation is simply about fairness and leveling the playing field for all our businesses."

Landrieu has signed onto a congressional bill that would force many mail-order and online companies to collect sales taxes from their customers and pay the money to the states.

That would remove one advantage out-of-state retailers currently enjoy over local businesses.

It would also free up another stream of money to state local coffers, money that is not being collected now.

No one likes paying taxes.

They can be expensive and inconvenient. But they are vital to our public services, the things our local and state governments do to keep our communities livable.

The bill faces some serious hurdles.

First, it must overturn a Supreme Court decision that says out-of-state vendors cannot be forced to collect sales taxes for the states. It also will have to negotiate the current anti-tax sentiment in Washington, D.C. - a fact that is not entirely fair. The bill would not increase taxes; instead, it would merely make it easier for states and localities to collect the taxes they are currently losing. As for Louisiana, the question could be extremely important. Gov. Bobby Jindal has proposed doing away with the state personal and corporate income taxes in lieu of increased sales taxes.

If that happens, the competitive disadvantage our local and state retailers currently face would be even greater and could fuel a loss of business to out-of-state companies.

Landrieu and the other supporters of this measure deserve a pat on the back for trying to make things a bit easier on local retailers. This effort is just beginning, but it could result in a fairer way of doing business.

 

Shreveport Office

U.S. Courthouse
300 Fannin St., Room 2240
Shreveport, LA 71101

Phone: 318-676-3085

Fax: 318-676-3100

Lake Charles Office

Capital One Tower
One Lake Shore Dr., Suite 1260
Lake Charles, LA 70629

Phone: 337-436-6650

Fax: 337-439-3762

Baton Rouge Office

Federal Building
707 Florida St., Room 326
Baton Rouge, LA 70801

Phone: 225-389-0395

Fax: 225-389-0660

New Orleans Office

Hale Boggs Federal Building
500 Poydras St., Room 1005
New Orleans, LA 70130

Phone: 504-589-2427

Fax: 504-589-4023

Northeast Office

U.S. Courthouse
300 Fannin St., Room 2240
Shreveport, LA 71101

Phone: 318-676-3085

Fax: 318-676-3100

Central Office

Federal Building
707 Florida St., Room 326
Baton Rouge, LA 70801

Phone: 225-389-0395

Fax: 225-389-0660

Washington, D.C. Office

703 Hart
Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Phone: 202-224-5824

Fax: 202-224-9735

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