The issue is far bigger than what is happening in South Carolina.
There is a national push to force internet retailers to collect and submit sales taxes. Texas and New York are leading the charge on this, and I suspect that SC will soon join up in the court fight.
The laws on the books are simple: If you have a physical presence in the state of SC, you are required to collect sales taxes on sales within the state. Google Nexus and South Carolina for details.
Further, if you purchase an item in which sales taxes have not been collected, the purchaser must submit the equivalent of that money (referred to as a use tax) to the state of SC. Anyone who purchases an item through the internet and does not submit the use tax to the State of SC is cheating the government out of money. Google Use Tax South Carolina for details.
It's far easier to go after the big fish in this game than an individual, thus the push to target Amazon and others.
Go to Target.com and try to purchase an item. You will be charged sales tax on that item. So, if they can do it, why can't Amazon? Target and Walmart pay rent on their properties. They pay property taxes. They pay utilities and upkeep of their shopping centers. They collect and submit sales taxes. Lots and lots of sales taxes, including the extra 1% for the building and maintenance of Charleston County Schools. Target and Walmart contribute to the tax base of the state and local governments in which their stores are based. Why should an internet retailer with a distribution center (hard to argue that wouldn't be a physical presence) in the state of SC play by different rules?
I own a small retail business that has been hurt by customers who purchase from internet retailers simply to save on sales taxes. Those lost sales hurt my business, and they hurt the local and state government, it's employees, the schools and nearly every other service we have come to depend on.
The jobs we save by enforcing the sales tax laws on the books may indeed be that of a teacher, fireman, policeman, emt, state or local government employee or the tens of thousands of jobs in the retail sector.
It's time to grow up, stop grumbling about paying our fair share of taxes and protect the jobs we have or be prepared to fork out tens of millions of dollars in unemployment benefits.
How in the world can Cee-Lo Green not make this list??
In a word, Paolo's Gelato is substandard. How I long for the days when Charleston's Best Gelato could be found in a small, unassuming shop on George Street...
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