Governor Kelly suggests online sales tax in new budget

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Governor Laura Kelly has suggested an online sales tax for Kansans. She says the tax would not only bring in nearly $50 million in revenue for the state, but it would also level the playing field between big online retailers and local stores. Currently, large online marketplaces, like Amazon or E-Bay, aren’t required to collect sales tax in the same way local businesses are.

“Just trying to figure out the best way to be available to people but also like not go under, ourselves,” said Christopher Luxem, Inventory Manager at The Raven Bookstore.

The Raven Bookstore is just one of the thousands of small businesses in Kansas competing with online stores. Luxem says many people in the community support the local business, but it’s still difficult.

“Like asking if we price match or if we can sell a book for 70% off like Amazon does, you know, and obviously, we can’t do that because we would make like pennies on the dollar,” added Luxem.

While requiring a tax for online sales wouldn’t completely fix the disparity, Luxem says it would be helpful.

However, many Kansans are concerned to hear that another tax may be added, in a state with already extremely high taxes. The Governor says that the funds collected from online sales tax will go directly back to the state; this would pay for things like education, roads, and other necessities.

A portion of all sales tax in the state will also be dispersed across the state to help lower property taxes. The Local Ad Valorem Tax Reduction Fund has been in place for this purpose but has not been funded by the government since 2003. Governor Kelly’s budget plan includes $54 million for this fund.

Kansas Director of the Budget, Larry Campbell, says the governor’s budget is just a start on the path to reduce taxes in the state.

“We’ll take it a step at a time, but the goal would be to do what we can for folks,” said Campbell.

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