From The Plain Dealer
David Lewis, owner of Lewis Electronics in Shaker Heights, is fed up with customers who ask why he charges sales tax on items they can buy tax-free over the Internet. Some will even show him on their smart phones how much cheaper the price is online.
“As a brick-and-mortar retailer, I can get a [sale] because I provide better customer service than I need to,” he said. “But I don’t have a choice of paying that tax and I can’t afford to eat it.”
Lewis is among millions of retailers nationwide who are pinning their hopes on the latest version of the Marketplace Fairness Act introduced on Feb. 14, which would tax online sales at the same rates those items are taxed in stores.
The proposed federal law aims to close the loophole that lets online sellers like Amazon.com avoid charging sales tax in states like Ohio where they don’t have any physical stores or warehouses.
Although people who shop at such sites are supposed to keep track of their purchases and pay the sales tax owed with their income taxes, less than 1 percent actually do.
“Don’t put a sales tax on anybody or put a sales tax on everybody,” said Lewis, whose 26-year-old business is facing a 30-percent drop in sales this year from Internet competitors.
That’s on top of the 15 percent drop he saw in his 2012 sales.
He appreciates the customers who value his expertise and buy their stereo systems and custom leather interiors from him, but wonders “why should they be punished for supporting me?”