Sales Tax Fairness

March 6, 2008 at 11:30 am Leave a comment

Some thoughts from Book Culture’s owner, Chris Doeblin, on sales tax and the greenness of local business:

Governor Spitzer has proposed a plan (the Internet Sales Tax provision) that will require out-of-state online companies to collect New York State sales tax on goods they send to addresses in New York. One estimate suggests the state could be losing out on $50 million a year. Independent business organizations have been bringing the issue to Albany for years, but our current budget hardship is certainly the door opener here. It’s our issue because books are the first big item sold on the Internet and the mainstay of Amazon.

The latest twist is Amazon’s reply to the plan. They have sent Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president for global public policy, to Albany to battle the plan. Personally, I have had enough of giant corporations molding public policy with elite executives walking into our halls of governance and justice. I prefer to have public policy support independents, small business, diversity of ownership and taxation fairness.

Many excellent articles have reported on this news. I direct you to Saul Hansell’s article in the New York Times on February 13. And I ask you to write to Governor Spitzer and support us by backing his plan to require companies such as Amazon to collect sales tax. The sales tax that we collect for ourselves makes us part of our communities. On the one hand, no one wants to be taxed – but let’s face it— we all want all the social benefits that our taxes provide us with.

Buying your books from your local bookseller keeps your money in the local community. It prevents extra packaging, and saves on the carbon imprint of your reading because there is no added shipping. And yes – it will add 8.35% to NY’s budget. Just remember, we live here in New York with you. As you walk down the gloriously vibrant and diverse streets of New York, take a look at what makes it great. Isn’t it the diversity, the small independent, the mom and pop store? These are the places that suffer from the advantages that giant chains and retailers like Amazon can gain through the power of capital and lobbying. It isn’t difficult to imagine our city without independent stores, and in some neighborhoods you can really see this taking place.

Please take a stand and tell Governor Spitzer that you support his plan to require Amazon to collect sales tax for New York. And then go one step further, and shop local. Keep New York diverse, independent and different. Right in our neighborhood, there are three wonderful cultural flowers – Book Culture, Bank Street Books, a treasure by any measure, and the Morningside Bookshop, another small independent bookseller that is family-owned. All of the owners and employees live in your community. All of our earnings stay here. The only money New Yorkers should be sending to Seattle is the money we spend there on vacation.

The American Booksellers Association letter to booksellers about this effort stresses that it is not only booksellers that are affected by this issue. At its core, I think the point is that we should be supportive of local businesses, small businesses and diversity of ownership. This is how we build strong, interesting, diverse communities. Amazon and other e-tailers don’t need a giant tax break, and New York local businesses need all the support our citizens and legislators can provide. As long as sales tax is applied, it ought to be applied fairly. Please take a moment to support our effort and write to your representatives as well and support this fair application. Let’s not have the corporate lobbyists sway your legislator’s vote.

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Entry filed under: Neighborhood News, Shop Local.

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