November 25, 2011
[...] Because most online outlets don’t charge sales tax, unlike traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. Buying online, especially when it comes to jewelry, cameras, computers and other high-end electronics, can save consumers a hefty chunk of change. But the costs to traditional retailers, not to mention state and local governments, are mounting.
“Not only does the retailer lose the sale, but the sales staff just lost 30 minutes telling the customer about the product,” Mr. Brewer said.
It’s infuriating to store owners, but after years of griping about the lack of fairness, this may well be the last holiday shopping season when bricks-and-mortar stores operate under a sales-tax handicap. A bipartisan consensus appears to be forming in Congress in favor of legislation that would close the tax loophole.
Such bills have come and gone for years, but the political winds took a turn this year, thanks largely to the efforts of lawmakers in California. The state waged a high-stakes duel with Amazon.com and won after the online giant agreed in September for the first time to comply with a state sales tax instead of fighting it in the courts or at the polls.