The Republican and Democrat sponsors of legislation to have Missouri begin collecting taxes on internet sales disagree on whether to make it revenue-neutral. One advocate for those collections says that has not been an issue in other states.
Christopher Rants is a spokesman for the Main Street Fairness Coalition who lobbied for the bills, sponsored by Representative Doug Funderburk (R-St. Peters) and Representative Margo McNeil (D-Florissant).
Twenty-four states have joined that coalition so far. “The early adopters … weren’t concerned about the revenue. More revenue came in but that wasn’t why we did it. We did it because we were concerned about fairness.”
As to the idea of revenue neutrality, he says, “nobody has really tried to make it revenue-neutral before.”
He says the idea would be easy enough initially. “In the first year or two, we’re only talking 20 or 25 million dollars. (Funderburk) will have his hands full when it gets up to the $210 million range, but then you’re looking maybe at a sizeable income tax or property tax cut.”
Rants says the tax collections could amount to that $210 million figure. “You look at studies that have been put out … the online loss of revenue is around $210 million, but the reality is it’s larger than that because we’re just talking online.” He says catalog sales and other transactions that are done with remote sellers are estimated to amount to another $210 million.
Rants says the more states joint the Coalition, the more its members benefit, but ultimately he says Congress must grant mandatory collection authority nationwide. He says that is closer to happening now than it’s ever been. “You’ve got good conservative Republicans … that have signed on to this legislation, that recognize that it’s a fairness issue for businesses, it’s a pro-business piece of legislation. The downside is, just have a pretty dysfunctional Congress right now.”