Could tax-free internet shopping be a thing of the past? Abilene businesses weigh in

Will internet tax collection help local businesses?

ABILENE, Texas - Years of sales-tax-free online shopping may soon come to an end.

Legislation allowing states to require all internet businesses to charge sales tax passed a test vote in the Senate.

The "Marketplace Fairness Act" could come up for a final vote in the Senate as early as Thursday.

The owner of one Abilene boutique says she would welcome a federal law requiring online businesses to charge sales tax.

"I think it puts us all on an even playing field. Maybe it won't be so tempting for them to order online thinking they can save that 8 and a quarter percent," said Yanell Rieder, owner of Casa Authentique in downtown Abilene.

Rieder said that the tax would not only encourage people to shop at "brick and mortar" stores, the revenue would be beneficial to all states.

"Most of all it's going to help our economy. It's going to be great for the state of Texas," said Rieder.

The Abilene Best Buy agrees. It helped their business when the state required Amazon.com to tack on the tax last July.  

"It really leveled the playing field for us as a competitor," said General Manager Dan Palmer. "The fact that they're going to pay the same price either way- a lot of our customers really like the personal interaction that they get when they come into a store and they can talk to somebody that's been around the product and had the chance to use it."

One shopper said he thinks it should be up to each individual business to decide. He does not believe the federal government should intervene.

"It's their right to charge tax or not charge tax and as people who use the internet we're definitely against it because it saves us money," he said. "It's just not gonna make anyone happy that i know of."

Currently, federal law states internet retailers only have to collect sales tax if they have a physical presence, like a store or distribution center, in the state.

Under the new bill, states would have to provide free computer software to help retailers calculate sales taxes, based on where shoppers live.

States would also have to establish a single entity to receive internet sales tax revenue, so retailers don't have to send them to individual counties or cities.

Businesses with less than one million a year in online sales will be exempt.

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