Letter: Level the playing field for Wisconsin retailers by Joe Pankratz
With the holiday season upon us, the stores and malls are full of shoppers looking for that special gift for loved ones. And while local retailers are still the preferred outlet for Christmas shoppers, Internet sales continue to grow dramatically. Early estimates for 2012 show a whopping 20 percent increase over last year in Internet shopping in Wisconsin. Wisconsin retailers welcome the opportunity to cater to the needs of our customers, both on the Internet and at our stores. Wisconsin customers pay all state and local taxes, whether they purchase in store or through the Internet from Wisconsin retailers.
Current Wisconsin law requires state and local taxes to be paid for any purchase made on the Internet.
Online-only retailers, however, are exploiting a massive loophole in the system and aren’t collecting sales tax at the point of sale, despite the fact that the tax is still due.
Wisconsin retailers must compete in an unfair market place with online retailers, costing the state not only lost sales tax revenue, but Wisconsin jobs. We urge Governor Walker and legislators to put Wisconsin first and deliver more jobs for Wisconsin by treating out-of-state online retailers the same as in-state retailers.
Governor Walker and legislative leaders have made job retention and creation a top priority in Wisconsin and we applaud them for advancing legislation to build Wisconsin’s economy. However, we can do more to support Wisconsin business. It makes no sense for Wisconsin to give out-of-state Internet companies an advantage over in-state business. Online-only retailers don’t collect the tax, leaving that responsibility with their customers who are not aware of the law and in most cases do not comply, leaving customers with a potentially significant unpaid tax liability.
Out-of-state Internet companies employ nobody in Wisconsin, pay no taxes in Wisconsin and give back nothing to local communities or charities in Wisconsin. It is time to put an end to this ridiculous, unfair advantage out-of-state Internet companies exploit over Wisconsin business.
Joe Pankratz, Appleton
President, Wisconsin Jewelers Association