Last week, the U.S. Senate made significant progress in moving forward with the Marketplace Fairness Act, bringing Oklahoma brick-and-mortar stores closer than ever to competing on a level playing field with online retailers. This bipartisan legislation would grant states the authority to compel out-of-state, online-only sellers to collect a sales tax at the point of purchase. It also updates our sales tax system to reflect the environment in which today's retailers operate, providing a boost to small businesses across Oklahoma.
Oklahoma's local businesses, which provide jobs and support our community, are suffering from a severe disadvantage that's threatening their ability to compete in today's marketplace. A 1992 Supreme Court ruling bars Oklahoma from requiring online sellers to collect sales tax at the point of purchase, as local shops do. This means online sellers enjoy as much as an 8 percent advantage in Oklahoma over their brick-and-mortar counterparts, hindering the success and growth of local retail. Congress has the ability to update our sales tax system to take the tax reporting burden off consumers, ensuring that all retailers play by the same rules. The Senate's movement on the legislation was a vital step toward creating fair competition while restoring the states' ability to manage their own fiscal policies.
The act will level the playing field for Oklahoma retailers and strengthen our free-enterprise system. I encourage Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, to help our local businesses continue to thrive by supporting this legislation on the final vote.
Carl Edwards, Oklahoma City
Edwards is a former chairman of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.