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ONLINE SALES TAX
Not enough to help brick-and-mortar stores
Not having to charge sales tax is only one small advantage that online retailers have (Short Takes, April 11). A brick-and-mortar store also needs to provide a pleasant, climate-controlled environment for its shoppers.
Typically, it must pay higher rent, based on location, than a warehouse used to store online stock. It must be kept clean and well-organized. It must be staffed to provide service to its customers. And, it must pay higher liability insurance premiums, in case one of those customers should get injured.
Brick-and-mortar stores require more staff, which means more payroll, more unemployment insurance and more benefits packages. To distill the disadvantage down to a sales tax issue ignores the largest disadvantage: overhead. Overhead leads to higher prices.
Forcing online retailers to collect sales tax will not solve the problem. Online stores will still be able to undercut brick-and-mortar stores simply because it costs them less to operate. Only when folks realize what they have lost with the demise of their local shops will this likely change.
Patricia Taylor, Minneapolis
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.