SEBRING – When some wall paper customers go to Griffin’s Carpet Mart, they look at what’s available and then go and find it online to order, owner John Griffin said.
That’s because if they buy it at Griffin’s store they have to pay 7 percent sales tax, but don’t if they get it on the Internet, Griffin said.
In view of that, Griffin said, he favors the U.S. Senate’s approval of the Market Place Fairness Act that would require larger online businesses to collect sales tax on sold items. The bill would not apply to many smaller online businesses and would not affect online businesses that have a physical presence in the state that must already collect the tax.
The bill also must be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I only think it’s only fair that everyone is on the same playing field,” Griffin said.
Gary Musselman, owner of Musselman’s Appliance & TV, agreed with Griffin, saying “I think it’s a fair idea. If we’re 7 percent behind before we even start, it’s an unfair advantage.”
Another business owner, Wayne Todd, who owns The Bulb Bin, said he agrees that such an idea would help local businesses.
“I’m surprised they waited this long to do something about it,” he said.
Griffin and some of the other business owners say that online businesses already have an advantage besides the sales tax collection. They don’t have buy or rent a building and pay for insurance and maintenance of it, they said.
But not all business owners believe the tax policy change will help a lot.
“It will (help), but it’s not going to make that much of a difference,” said Vicki Jarvis, owner of Frames and Images.
Jarvis said the 7 percent doesn’t make a lot of difference to her customers, who appreciate the customer service she provides that they don’t receive by making purchases online.
Some customers, Griffin said, buy the wallpaper online and then have problems and return to him for help.
Rhonda Barnes, owner of Steve & Company, said the issue is fairness.
“If I’ve got to collect it, they should have to also,” she said.