Push to tax online sales heats up

Kim Hunter, the owner of “Bag of Bones,” a holistic pet food and pet toy shop in Sparks, has been in business for 10 years, but it’s become harder and harder to make a profit since the explosion of competing sales over the Internet.

That’s because online retailers aren’t required to collect state sales taxes if they don’t have a physical presence in a state, giving Internet sellers an edge over storefront businesses such as Hunter’s. In Nevada, the state sales tax is 6.85 percent. Taxpayers are supposed to pay it every year, but few do unless state auditors come calling.

“It becomes a much better deal online,” Hunter said of the sale of pet food and goods, from dog leashes to jingly cat toys. “And there’s no overhead like a storefront. They make it unfair for my business to compete.”

The same bag of dog food, for example, sells for several dollars less online.

States also are losing sales tax revenue, from $200 million to $680 million per year in Nevada, according to 2012 estimates.

But that may soon change.

Lawmakers in Washington and in Carson City are pushing this year for passage of the federal Marketplace Fairness Act, which would require online sellers to collect state sales taxes. The proposed legislation will be considered during the lame-duck session of Congress following the Nov. 4 election, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday.

“We have to do something about market­place fairness,” Reid told reporters as he listed his top lame-duck priorities. “That is long, long overdue. And we’re going to have to have whatever it takes to get that done.”

Republican state Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, on Thursday told the Review-Journal editorial board that the Marketplace Fairness Act has bipartisan support in the Nevada Legislature, partly because it would level the playing field for storefronts and because the state needs all the sales tax revenue it can get.

GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval has been pressing the issue for the past couple of years, too. In 2012, he announced an agreement with Internet giant Amazon.com to let the state start collecting sales taxes on the company’s sales to Nevada customers beginning this year. Amazon also supports the federal legislation.

“The only way to completely resolve this issue is for Congress to enact legislation that, within a simplified nationwide framework, grants states the right to require collection by all sellers,” Sandoval said at the time. “We thank Amazon for creating jobs and investment in Nevada and are very grateful the company is working with us on a federal solution.”

Amazon has a distribution center in Fernley in Northern Nevada. It also owns Zappos, the Las Vegas-based online shoe and clothing retailer.

A majority of Nevadans support the idea of paying sales taxes when they buy goods online, according to a new poll commissioned by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Asked their views on having “online-only vendors collect sales tax at the time of sale,” 64 percent said they supported it, 26 percent did not support it, and 10 percent said they didn’t know, according to the survey. Some 75 percent of Nevadans agreed it would be easier to collect sales taxes that way.

The poll also showed that 53 percent of Nevadans were unaware they’re supposed to pay state sales taxes on online purchases.

The poll conducted by Opinion Research Corp. surveyed 267 adults, both registered and nonregistered Nevada voters, by land-line and cellphone Aug. 22-28. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 6.2 percentage points.

“Nevadans from all walks of life and across the political spectrum overwhelmingly agree that the long-term economic health of their communities depends on a level playing field for all businesses,” said Michael Kercheval, president and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

For Hunter, the pet store owner, she’s just looking to stay in business with online sales growing each year. Her sales once were about evenly divided between pet food and toys and accessories. But people have been buying more nonfood pet items online because, unlike the kibbles and bits, they can wait for shipping. Now, 80 percent of her sales are food.

“People still want to grab their bag and take it home,” Hunter said. “So I have to sell a lot more food.”

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj.

Holiday parades help bring shoppers to Downtown Summerlin
Sports Town USA floor manager Angela Gardonio talks about how the work that goes into the Downtown Summerlin holiday parades and how they benefit her and other businesses there.
Final vote on CG Technology
Final commission vote on the $2 million settlement for CG Technology.
Happie Home Startup Establishing Headquarters In Las Vegas
Digital companion startup company Happie Home is establishing its headquarters in Las Vegas after receiving tax abatements from the Governor's Office of Economic Development on Nov. 15. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center will showcase 13 small businesses in November and December and seven in January. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
T-Mobile uses ticketing data to plan for event
T-Mobile Executive Director of Arena Operations explains how ticket sales data and demographics help plan staffing, vendors, parking and operations for an event.
Costco opens its doors in southwest Henderson
Costco has opened its fifth Las Vegas-area location near the intersection of St. Rose Parkway and Amigo Street. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas strip mall and office park
The Krausz Cos. and WG Group bought a strip mall and an office park in Las Vegas for nearly $80 million total. They acquired a portion of Tropicana Beltway Center in the southwest valley for $59 million. They also acquired the Westbay office complex in the Las Vegas Medical District. The buyers are former owners of The Gramercy, a once-mothballed mixed-use project in the Las Vegas suburbs. They sold The Gramercy in phases for more than $100 million.
Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry
Celebrity tattoo artist and business owner Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry at The World of Tattoo industry trade show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
$7.5M Las Vegas pot dispensary opens near Las Vegas Strip
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. It has entertainment including an interactive floor and floating orbs. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars CEO to step down next year
Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Mark Frissora will leave the casino company in February. Frissora has been CEO since July 2015. He was named CEO right after Caesars' operating company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Caesars Entertainment emerged from bankruptcy protection in October 2017 Before Caesars, Frissora spent seven years as chairman and CEO of Naples, Fla.,-based Hertz He led the consolidation of the rental-car industry through Hertz‘s acquisition of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
Planet 13 in Las Vegas adds twist to marijuana dispensary look
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. The dispensary is located near the intersection of Desert Inn Road and Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, near Trump International, in Las Vegas. Planet 13 has plans in the future for a coffee shop, a tasting room for marijuana-infused beer and wine, a lounge for consuming marijuana on site if that is legalized and space for food.
Caesars Entertainment opening 2 resorts in Dubai
Cove Beach will open on Meraas’ Bluewaters Island in Dubai in November and Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and The Residences at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai will open in December. (Caesars Entertainment)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like