Indianapolis—Many Hoosiers said they are likely to fill up virtual shopping carts just as often, if not more often, than the ones on four wheels this holiday season.
“During the Christmas season, I will probably do the bulk of my shopping online just because, with me, doing my daily runs and errands and going to work, I really don`t have time to go to the store,” said Brandi Lamar of Indianapolis.
“I go online because it`s cheaper that way sometimes,” said another shopper.
It is cheaper many times because sites like Overstock.com, eBay and Amazon.com do not collect Indiana State sales tax which adds up to an immediate 7 percent discount for shoppers.
Some retailers in Indiana, like Marc Aronstam, owner of Aronstam Jewelers, said it is not fair.
“My attitude is, if someone doesn`t have to pay sales tax, why do I?,” said Aronstam. “Why give them the advantage, when I’m trying to make a sale to someone and they come back at me with ‘well, I can get it online for 7 percent less?’”
Grant Monahan with the Indiana Retail Council said the exemption for online retailers is costing Indiana $250 to $300 million a year in lost sales tax revenue and adds, “as time goes by, Indiana is going to lose more and more revenue if this situation isn`t fixed in Congress.”
There are bills in both the House and the Senate that aim to level the playing field.
Originally Amazon.com opposed such a measure. About 2 weeks ago, Simon Malls filed a lawsuit asking the court to force the State of Indiana to collect state taxes from Amazon.com, pointing out that Amazon`s warehouses give the company a physical presence here in Indiana. Then, this week, Amazon executives wrote to Senators, saying the company now supports their bill.
As for shoppers, some say they are opposed to the bill.
“I think that it`s stupid,” said Indianapolis resident, Misty Reynolds.
Reynolds said if it is passed, she will change her shopping habits.
“Why shop online when I can get it for the same price at the store if I`m going to get taxed?” asked Reynolds.
Other shoppers support the measure.
“I don`t think that some people should charge it and some people shouldn`t,” said Brandi Lamar of Indianapolis.
The Indiana Retail Council said there could be some movement on the bill before Congress adjourns on November 23, but they said it is unlikely that it would go into effect before this holiday shopping season. However, they said if the bill passes, the new online sales tax requirement could be implemented as soon as early next year.