JACKSONVILLE, Ark. (KTHV) -- The city of Jacksonville joins other small cities across the state to add a possible internet sales tax.
Mayor Gary Fletcher thinks the problem needs to be addressed on a federal level as technology impacts retail business. If things don’t go the way as planned, he hopes congressmen find another fair solution.
The Arkansas Municipal League is working across the state to support the expansion of internet sales tax to create a level playing field for local businesses. Thursday, Jacksonville will decide if it will join 20 or more cites that already gave this resolution a green light.
"They don't have invested interest in this town. We've been in this town 54 years, it's our heart and soul,” said one local business owner, Karen Abrahamson. “If you don't invest back into your town, then there is no town.”
Would you support internet sales tax if it meant supporting your city?
“Many of our businesses are having a difficult time competing with the internet, which doesn’t collect state and local sales tax,” said Don Zimmerman, Arkansas Municipal League Director.
Altus, Batesville, Bay, Bella Vista, Berryville, Brookland, Calico Rock, and Dumas, plus many others, have gone ahead of Jacksonville with this plan.
“Sometimes purchasers come in and look at merchandise in the stores, then go home and buy it on the internet,” said Zimmerman.
He thinks local businesses are at a competitive disadvantage. The addition would help places like Double R Florist stay in business and keep employees employed.
“It also results in additional revenue coming back to the state, city, and county. It will help with public safety, infrastructure, and other things provided at the city, county, and state level,” Zimmerman added.
Abrahamson, who owns the local flower shop in Jacksonville, is all on board. She hopes it will increase in-store foot traffic.
"I think it’s only right and fair since we collect sales tax for the city and state that everybody else globally should have to do the same thing we do,” she said.
“We saw just recently over the weekend that the governor was able to restore $60,000,000 of cuts at the state level,” said Zimmerman.
In March Amazon started collecting sales tax on some transactions. In one month, Zimmerman told us some cities received an increase of 7.2%
“Support your local businesses because they're the foundation of the town and city. That's the only way the city is going to grow is if we generate revenue by sales tax,” Abrahamson said.
Zimmerman also said some members of Arkansas's congressional delegation have tried to help with this problem in recent years, but nothing came of it. He's hopeful state legislatures can encourage a special session without waiting another 18 months on the tax reform committee.