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December 14, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Online sales-tax debate continues

Win-win situation for Washington
There has been a lot of ink devoted to the online sales-tax issue this year, which is why it is surprising to read the same tired old arguments about the perceived challenges for small businesses [“Give states the power to collect online sales tax,” Editorials, Nov. 30 and “Small-business owners penalized,” Northwest Voices, Dec. 4]. The truth is that collecting sales tax on online purchases is no more complicated than calculating shipping costs.

Sales-tax-management software is available at every price point, including free. Additionally, Washington and more than half of the states offer collection allowances to compensate businesses for acting as a sales-tax collector. Contrary to what opponents of e-fairness will have you believe, collecting sales tax on online purchases will be both easy and cheap for small businesses.

More importantly, it is a win-win situation for everyone in the Evergreen State. We already owe sales tax when we make an online purchase, so if the store collects it then the shopper doesn’t have to keep track of it. And more tax revenue means more funding for libraries, parks, emergency services, education and infrastructure. It is time for Congress to bring some sanity and order to our sales-tax system.

—Alesha Shemwell, Redmond

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