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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 16, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Internet taxes: Don’t burden online retailers, help them grow

Support small business, not punish it

The recent Seattle Times editorial advocating for new sales taxes on Internet retailers headlined “Sales-tax collections should be consistent” [Opinion, July 10] misses the mark. The “streamlined sales tax” it mentions would force small online businesses across Washington — and the country — to comply with complex tax laws from every tax jurisdiction in every state. These measures would impose significant new costs and accounting burdens for small Internet retailers, which could force them out of business.

Do not lose sight of the changing face of retail in recent decades. Mega-retail giants have pushed many small businesses off Main Street USA. Many small retailers, individual entrepreneurs and family businesses found the Internet made survival possible. The Internet is a small-business success story.

I think most of your readers would agree that it does not make sense to increase taxes on small businesses in such a tough economy. Treating small retailers — some with just a handful of employees — the same as a mega-retailer with hundreds of accountants and tax professionals is a recipe for disaster.

Instead of measures that are sure to stunt growth, we should be thinking of ways to help small businesses grow and empower consumers.

— Tod Cohen, eBay Inc. vice president for government relations

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