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Business Owners: Tax Internet Retailers To Keep Real Stores Alive

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A Man Uses A Computer Mouse. (AP Photo)

A Man Uses A Computer Mouse. (AP Photo)

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (CBS) — Local business owners are looking for a more level playing field, and are backing legislation that would require Internet retailers to collect sales taxes too.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, David Vite of the Illinois Retail Merchants’ Association says all retailers want is for state laws to be applied equally.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

He is in favor of legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), which would close a loophole that allows Internet stores to avoid collecting state sales taxes if they do not have a physical presence in the state.

Becky Anderson, the owner of Anderson’s Bookshop at 123 W. Jefferson Ave. in Naperville, says she is affected personally by the loophole.

She told a Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Committee luncheon that customers pick her brain on book choices, then go home and buy from some other company off the Internet.

Vite said that the avoidance of sales taxes has led to brick-and-mortar establishments going out of business, which led to a loss of property taxes and added stress to the rest of a municipality’s property tax base.

He stressed to the chamber of commerce committee that collecting sales taxes online was not a tax increase, only the fulfillment of a law that was already on the books, but seldom enforced.

Vite said that Amazon has already agreed to the sales tax, but EBay was still opposed to it on the grounds that it would hurt small traders that used the service.

He estimated that Illinois alone would gain $400 million currently, with the total increasing to about $1 billion by 2020, if the Internet taxes were collected.

Dick Furstenau, candidate for the DuPage County Board and a former Naperville City Councilman, spoke in favor of the legislation, noting the stress put on local municipalities by dwindling sales tax bases.

“The only place left (to get money) is out of your house,” Furstenau said. “It’s the only place left to raise taxes.”

Vite said that the 6.25 percent sales tax from the state included a fixed portion that would be returned to municipal coffers automatically. But he said various local and county taxes would not be collected by the proposed legislation.

The Naperville Sun contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

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