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Letters to the Editor

Mucking up marketplace fairness

Hal Stevens August 7th, 2013

Government has a habit of phrasing proposals in a way that sounds reasonable. A good example of this is the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), which is neither fair nor affordable, nor easily implementable.

The MFA would make Internet retailers unpaid tax collectors for almost 10,000 governmental entities. It sets an arbitrary threshold for small sellers doing $1 million or less in sales — not profits. Think about all of the mom-and-pop shops who sell online. These are the Internet entrepreneurs who have worked hard to provide a fair income for themselves and their family, and this threshold does not protect them.

My company would be one of those not protected. I employ between 15 and 20 people who work hard and enjoy working for a smaller, family-style company. They help create, and share in, the profits of a creative and nimble company that successfully plays by the rules and satisfies customers.

The pretext is that local retailers are being hurt because customers are buying products online instead of local retail shops, because they don’t have to pay sales taxes. Yet people buy online because it is more convenient, saves time and can be done without restrictions of time or location. Generally, products on the Internet can be easily compared for best price and availability, they can be bought with a click and they don’t require gas or time to travel.

If the MFA becomes law, I would immediately have to hire additional people just to keep up with the programming, tax collection and verification of paperwork, to ensure we don’t get threatened by a potential out-of-state audit. Yet my company would be producing/selling no more as a result of this, and our expenses would significantly increase. The result would be less efficiency, higher expenses, possible layoffs and higher prices.

Simply stated, the MFA is a money grab by state governments in the pretext of making things fair, using inefficient retailers as their stooges. I strongly urge U.S. Rep. James Lankford to consider the damaging effects another needless tax will have on Internet-based companies and technology-era entrepreneurs.

—Hal Stevens, Edmond

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