Sales tax on Amazon bill is good for the community
The Park Record editorial, Jan. 4-6, 2017
January 3, 2017
If you are an Amazon customer, you have probably noticed a new fee appearing on your bill. As of New Year's Day, in accordance with an agreement between Amazon and the Utah Tax Commission, the stuff in your shopping cart is subject to state and local sales taxes. The rate will vary according to local jurisdictions, but it will add about 8 percent to the grand total in Park City.
That may not please online bargain hunters, but it is good news for local retailers because it levels the playing field, and for city, state and county governments that have watched online retailers sap local revenues for years.
They (and we) are hoping that before Amazon Prime customers start searching for another way to get around paying those taxes, they will consider what those revenues mean to the community.
In Park City and Summit County those sales taxes pay for amenities like street enhancements, open space purchases, the Recreation, Arts and Parks tax grants and transit improvements.
Granted, 8 percent can add up quickly — but that money is ultimately invested back into state and local treasuries.
Many local merchants can easily relate to stories about spending hours with finicky customers — trying on the latest styles or asking for detailed information about a particular piece of sports equipment — only to find out their plan was to buy the item online anyway. They lose a sale and the taxing entities do, too.
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As reported recently in The Park Record, local merchants, especially Main Street's unique mom-and-pop retailers, are facing critical challenges — rising rents and an influx of national brands are among the biggest threats. The fact that many online retailers don't charge sales taxes just makes it even harder for them to stay in business.
City and county governments, too, lose out when customers shun local shopping districts in favor of untaxed online options.
So, as much as we like to save a few pennies here and there, we applaud Amazon's willingness to add on the local sales taxes — they are one of the few online retailers that do.
Of course, the best bet is to shop locally. But when that is not possible, we hope Amazon customers will accept the new policy as a fair way to pay their dues for living in a great community.