The Times West Virginian


May 12, 2013

Marketplace Fairness Act helps level playing field for small businesses

FAIRMONT — Local business professionals like the fact that the Marketplace Fairness Act would treat all retail equally in terms of sales taxes.

On May 6, the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 was passed in the U.S. Senate by a 69-27 vote. The legislation now awaits the decision of the U.S. House of Representatives and then President Barack Obama, who has expressed his support of the bill.

Right now, only businesses that have an actual store location in a state can be obligated to collect sales taxes. When Walmart, Target, Kmart and other large companies with a physical presence in states across the nation get online purchases, they have to charge sales taxes. But these taxes don’t have to be collected by Internet retailers, such as Amazon and eBay, unless they have a facility in the particular state.

The Marketplace Fairness Act would give states the authority to mandate that retailers collect taxes for online sales, as well as sales from catalogs and radio and TV advertisements. That money would go to the state where the shopper resides.

Some parties, including representatives from states that don’t have sales taxes, are against the new legislation because they see it as a tax increase.

The legislation includes an exemption for companies that have less than $1 million in Internet sales.

Bridget Lambert, president of the West Virginia Retailers Association, explained that the small-business tax exemption would cover what is considered to be small businesses. Businesses that have more than $1 million in annual remote sales are not designated as small online retailers, and they are competing with other stores that are located in hometowns.

She said the collection of online sales taxes actually falls to the consumer at this point in time.

“These taxes ironically are due to the state of West Virginia,” Lambert said. “It is a tax that already is owed by the consumers.”

State tax forms include a line for West Virginia consumers to remit a use tax. However, there’s usually a large percentage of consumers who don’t remit use taxes. The Marketplace Fairness Act would guarantee collection and remittance for online sales, which isn’t currently happening, Lambert said.

“West Virginia and all the other states are losing significant tax dollars,” she said.

West Virginia’s U.S. senators — Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who co-sponsored the bill, and Sen. Joe Manchin — are both on board with the concept of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which the West Virginia Retailers Association has been supporting, Lambert said.

West Virginia has a lot of main street merchants that support their communities with taxes and employ citizens, she said. They operate locally, but are competing with online retailers that have an advantage.

Lambert hopes the legislation keeps moving foward, because a delay from Congress would have a continued negative impact on retailers, she said.

The West Virginia Legislature recently passed House Bill 2754, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the legislation into law. Lambert explained that this is a sales and use tax clarification bill.

It designates that retailers that have a presence in the state — a store or a distribution center — and do online sales must collect the 6 percent sales tax, she said. This will impact Amazon, which has a facility in Huntington, beginning Jan. 1, 2014.

“West Virginia is being proactive as well as our national delegation at this point,”  Lambert said.

She said the federal legislation will uniformly streamline these sales tax practices.

“I would think any chamber of commerce representing small business in the community would be in favor of this because it does level the playing field,” said Tina Shaw, president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce.

She said she doesn’t think it’s fair if a small-business retailer located in a community offers a product, but a customer can go on the Internet and purchase the same product on eBay or Amazon without having to pay the sales tax.

Email Jessica Borders at or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.

Text Only
  • ‘L-gov’ program of West Virginia Treasurer’s Office providing many benefits

    The “L-gov” program of the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office is providing many benefits to governmental entities across the state, including the City of Fairmont.
    L-gov, which is an abbreviation for local government, helps cities, towns, school boards, public service districts and other entities process their bills in a streamlined, efficient way.

    July 27, 2014

  • Cardinal Tax Services-JB.jpg Helping people focus of Cardinal Tax Services

    At Cardinal Tax Services LLC, Wendy Cutlip is doing what she enjoys — helping people.
    Cutlip, owner and Registered Tax Return Preparer, opened her new business in White Hall at the beginning of June. It is located in the Mountain Gate Business Park, which is along Route 250 South just past Fabric and Foam and next to the Sunoco.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 22, 2014

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 22, 2014

  • Morgantown’s housing expenses exceed national average

    The housing prices in Morgantown are driving the city’s cost of living above the national average, a new survey reports.
    John Deskins, director of the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics’ Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER), explained that the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) orchestrates data collection in 288 cities across the country.

    July 20, 2014

  • JA Used Furniture-JB.jpg J.A. Used Furniture has valuable variety

    J.A. Used Furniture in Fairmont carries items that people need — all at low prices.
    Owner Ron Dray officially opened the doors of his new business, located at 10 Locust Ave., toward the end of December. He explained that the “J.A.” initials in the store’s name stand for the names of his two granddaughters, Jordan and Adriauna.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Backbone Security, T&T Pump Co. among 37 state companies recognized

    Two Marion County companies were recently celebrated for their continued successes in exporting.
    Backbone Security and T&T Pump Co., both in Fairmont, were among the 37 West Virginia companies that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Cabinet Secretary Keith Burdette, the West Virginia Development Office and the West Virginia Export Council recently acknowledged for expanding their business to new parts of the world. An awards presentation was held in Charleston on June 24.

    July 13, 2014

  • All Things Herbal-JB.jpg All Things Herbal health and wellness shop

    All Things Herbal Local Market is a one-stop, health and wellness shop.
    Owner Christa Blais officially opened her new business in downtown Fairmont at 327 Adams St., across from Veterans’ Square, on June 6 during Main Street Fairmont’s First Friday event.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3-D printing continuing to revolutionize manufacturing

    As 3-D printing is revolutionizing manufacturing, the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing continues to stay at the forefront of this technology.
    RCBI has three Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centers, located in Bridgeport, Charleston and Huntington.

    July 6, 2014

  • Blackheart International -JB.jpg Blackheart International bringing high-quality services

    Blackheart International, a firearms manufacturer and provider of logistics and training solutions, is bringing high-quality services to the local community.
    At the beginning of April, the company moved from Philippi, where it had been located since 2005, to its new home in Fairmont.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Business
House Ads