As a small business owner in Pittston, I know that every penny from every sale is incredibly important to my success, and those sales are driven by the customers I am able to reach around the world through the internet and platforms like eBay. Today, any business — no matter how small or in what industry — must have an online presence to succeed. For my company, which sells automotive parts, online sales represent a significant portion of our total revenue every year.
Last week, I joined 25 other eBay small business owners in Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress, including Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, and Rep. Matt Cartwright, to discuss internet sales tax legislation. Current law requires online retailers to collect and remit a single sales tax rate to a single taxing authority for in-state sales – just like main street retailers treat in-store purchases. However, the Marketplace Fairness Act and the Remote Transactions Parity Act would require very small retailers, including me, to collect sales tax for nearly 9,600 jurisdictions and would subject me to audits from across the country.
For the big box retailers that so many small businesses compete with, these new compliance requirements could be absorbed. However, the burden this would place on my business would upset my online operations.
Small businesses and start-ups face significant burdens as it is, and many are already at risk of being put out of business by large retailers. As a country, we should be breaking down barriers, opening markets and encouraging small businesses through tools like eBay and the internet, that support growth and create new economic opportunities.
Along those lines, modernizing trade policies to account for the online economy is also important. Congress has taken steps to update U.S. customs rules and better reflect the current retail market, but more needs to be done. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will modernize trade policies for small business exporters, and future trade policies should build off of this model.
While in Washington, I was reminded how important it is for Congress to hear from small business owners. Policymakers often talk about the notion of small businesses being the “foundation of our economy,” and the phrase gets tossed around so much that its meaning and significance are almost in jeopardy of being diluted. We are, in fact, the foundation of our economy, and that’s why our leaders in Congress must work to protect it.
Zig’s Auto Accessories, Pittston