Local TV Commercial Aims To Stop National Retail Loophole - WSET.com - ABC13

Local TV Commercial Aims To Stop National Retail Loophole

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Lynchburg, VA - You always look for the best shopping deal, right?  Often though, the best deal may not be the best for local businesses.  Business advocates are blasting an online loophole that they say is driving business, away from Main Street, locally owned businesses.

On-line shopping, in certain instances, does not require a sales tax, therefore driving the cost down for the consumer.  But why is it that mom and pop shops have to pay that sales tax, and big online retailers, don't?

It's hard enough for local businesses to compete with online heavy-weights, "Local retailers like me should have a fair chance to compete” said a business owner during a recent TV commercial spot targeting the loophole.

But an online retail loophole is making it even harder.

"Internet sellers should play by the same tax rules that we do” said another business owner.

A new TV spot featuring local small business owners from Lynchburg and Roanoke is now a part of the 21st Century Retail project, paid for by the International Council of Shopping Centers.  The project and TV spot aim to close an online retail loophole by targeting a heavy hitter on Capitol Hill

"We need Congressman Goodlatte and congress to do the right thing and support local businesses by passing e-fairness now” said Lynchburg business owner, Danny Givens in the commercial.

In certain instances, online retailers that don't have a brick and mortar shop in a particular state don't have to pay that state's sales tax, presenting a major problem for main street retailers.  Consumers want the lowest cost goods.  Online, without a sales tax, retailers can offer the most competitive price tag. In Virginia, that's upwards of a 5% online advantage.

"We believe in free enterprise and believe in the system, we just want to be able to fight on fairer ground” said Givens.

Givens owns Givens Books and Little Dickens in Lynchburg.  He's featured on the TV spot fighting for passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act, now held up in the House Judiciary Committee where Bob Goodlatte sits as Chairman.

"Locally owned family businesses contribute more to their communities than internet business. They're not giving money and dollars back to these communities like we are” he said.

24 states have individually passed similar marketplace fairness laws.  Virginia has not.  Congressman Goodlatte provided a statement on the Marketplace Fairness Act via email Wednesday:

“I understand the concerns of local business owners, and I have personally met with many groups regarding this issue. In September, I released seven principles to provide a starting point for discussion and the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing recently to further review several possible solutions. We are looking at innovative approaches to the internet sales tax issue and continue to work with all stakeholders on that effort.  As I have previously stated, I have serious concerns regarding the Marketplace Fairness Act passed by the Senate and do not believe this legislation is the answer. Any online sales tax system must be simple enough for every business to use and fair, so that all businesses - whether online, brick-and-mortar, or brick-and-click - are on equal footing.  It must also allow tax competition so that states are able to foster more economic growth by keeping their rates low.”

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