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Local businessman joins effort for fair tax of online sales

October 19, 2011

Rep. Eileen Kowall and Buck Kopietz testify before the House Tax Policy Committee. Photo provided
Clarkston business owner Buck Kopietz joined state Rep. Eileen Kowall in Lansing to testify in favor of closing an Internet sales tax loophole, Oct. 12.

"The Main Street Fairness Act is about fairness and equality for all businesses," said Kowall, R-District 44, to the House Committee on Tax Policy. "It is not acceptable for some online retailers to have an unfair advantage over brick and mortar stores."

House Bill 5004, introduced by Kowall and state Rep. Jim Ananich, requires all online retailers to collect state sales tax for purchases.

"I introduced the Main Street Fairness Act to level the playing field between local businesses and Internet retailers," Kowall said. "Closing this loophole will eliminate the competitive disadvantage that is holding back local businesses. State government is no longer picking winners and losers. Every business in Michigan should have the same opportunity to grow and create jobs."

Buck Kopietz, owner of Silver Kiss Jewelry on Main Street, said his business has suffered due to customers taking up his salespeople's time, only to purchase a similar item online without paying sales tax.

"Stores become showrooms for Internet suppliers," Kopietz said. "From my standpoint, every $100,000 in sales means one job. Jobs are lost because of purchases on the Internet it's a huge problem."

The Michigan Main Street Fairness Act taxes online-only retailers the same as brick-and-mortar businesses, and includes retailers who conduct business through affiliate businesses in Michigan or own subsidiary companies to avoid paying sales tax.

"It's not a new tax, it just collects what's already on the books," Kopietz said. "It's a collection issue."

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