State should legislate online sales tax collection

The online purchase you make in the comfort of your home might be a bit more convenient, but the consequences affect our local economy through retail sales and associated sales tax revenue.

In recent weeks, the Southeast Missourian has reported Cape Girardeau County and the City of Jackson sales tax revenue is flat compared to last year's number. While the county does have a use tax (passed in 2015 by only six votes), the cities of Cape Girardeau and Jackson do not.

Local municipalities face the challenge of providing the same level of services without the ability, in some cases, to collect local sales tax from out-of-state retailers.

We have editorialized in support of the use tax when it's been on the ballot. Voters in both cities have rejected it at the ballot box. We get it. Trying to pass a tax issue is not the most popular thing. But the reality is this issue will not go away on its own.

During a recent visit to Cape Girardeau touting his workforce development achievements, Gov. Mike Parson said all businesses should be on the same playing field when it comes to paying sales taxes.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2018 states could pass legislation requiring out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes. The Missouri General Assembly did not take action last year, but Parson was optimistic on his recent visit there would be movement in the upcoming session.

While the revenue component is important, our position is all retailers, be it brick and mortar shops or online, doing business in Missouri should be required to collect the same sales tax.