Online merchants have an unfair advantage over Whidbey businesses

Editor,

Recent efforts by eBay to lobby the Legislature don’t tell the whole story.

Washington state has an outdated sales tax collection system which has not adapted to the 21st century internet marketplace. Out-of-state online merchants benefit from using local brick and mortar stores as their showrooms, without having to contribute to support local community services. This gives them an unfair advantage. If they paid their share of sales taxes, state and local governments would not be struggling so much to fund the basic services for schools and criminal justice.

Additionally, without this correction, our Legislature will continue to give these out of state retailers an 8-9 percent competitive edge over local stores. This can be more than the profit margin available for the goods being sold, and makes it harder for them to keep their doors open.

Main street stores are integral to our communities. They provide jobs, support civic organizations and pay their fair share in taxes to fund vital public services and infrastructure. They deserve an even playing field.

As a small business owner and local elected official, I believe this is a critically important issue for Washington’s future.

Sincerely,

HELEN PRICE JOHNSON

Island County commissioner

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