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Local merchant vs. online shopping

Published: May 6, 2013

It seems that a business model requiring one merchant to charge a tax, which he doesn't keep, so another merchant can charge a tax that he doesn't keep, isn't as “unfair” as it seems. Customers face a wide range of buying decisions. Tax is one; the cost of shopping is another. Getting merchandise immediately, low-cost or immediate delivery, feeling, seeing, having a friendly, courteous and knowledgeable sales person are all things a merchant has to attract customers against online or other vendors. The manner of returning or replacing merchandise can be important.

Some retailers guarantee the “lowest price” — is that fair to others? Perhaps we should have price controls. Merchants have many issues in their business model: inventory, cost of goods, overhead, etc. A sales tax is just a cost. Maybe that percentage makes a difference but more often, other factors determine a purchase and a successful business. “Preshopping” is a problem, but if the customer is there, simply find a way to identify and capture them. Finally, is buying away from home fair to the city where I live, or to my local merchant?

Think of trying to keep up and charge literally thousands of tax methods if you start a business. This will probably pass but it's not for fairness, because fairness isn't really the issue. It's plain and simple, a tax.

Bruce Smallwood, Edmond

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