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Supreme Court rules states can collect sales tax from online stores

Supreme Court rules states can collect sales tax from online stores (Photo: Pexels, via MGN Online)

MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Some are calling it a "win" for small shops: the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that online merchants must collect sales tax on irders.

While it means you may need to prepare to pay more while shopping online, everyone FOX 45's Shavon Anderson spoke with said it's a good reminder of why you should shop local.

Molly Williams runs M & Company in downtown Miamisburg. She said building a brand new business, when the number of brick and mortar shops are shrinking, isn't easy.

"It's absolutely terrifying," she said, "what what we do is we try to offer what's missing online, and that is personalization."

2017 was the worst year on record according to retail think-tank Fung Global Retail & Technology, which reported that about 7,000 stores announced closings and more than 600 filed for bankruptcy.

"I know it sounds fun and easy to sit on your couch in your pajamas and order things off of Amazon," Williams said, "but you're not getting out in your community. You're not helping to create jobs."

The absence of the sales tax on online items has long lured shoppers to internet sites. Centerville Florists said the ruling evens the playing field.

"We compete with what's called online flower order gatherers," co-owner Keith Wiederhold said.

Those are nationwide call centers, sometimes even overseas, and can pretend to be local shops. Places like Centerville Florists are forced to do more to stand out, including doing things like offering extras you can't buy behind a screen.

"We do a 'Design with Wine' class," Wiederhold added.

They have an upcoming 'Design with Wine' class on July 14, where participants get a hands-on lesson on how to create a specific arrangement. They also are able to pick out wine selections.

The ruling only impacts sites with more than $100,000 in annual sales to a state, or 200 transactions with that state's residents. A handful of local small businesses who are doing just well enough to fall into that category have said they're worried, wondering how and when to start figuring out tax laws and how to collect.

Most states will still need to pass a bill before collecting that money. In Ohio, internet shops aren't required to collect state taxes if they don't have a physical presence. That responsibility calls on customers to send the taxes to the state, but the law isn't heavily enforced.

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