Favorite

Internet looting continues 

The 2017 legislative session concluded without passage of a bill to encourage internet merchants to collect and remit taxes on sales in Arkansas, though internet giant Amazon has begun doing so voluntarily.

It's a pity. A Koch-funded lobby spooked many legislators into believing this amounted to a tax increase, though purchasers legally are already obligated to pay the tax. The problem is that federal case law, which may be changing, holds that merchants without physical operations in Arkansas are not legally required to collect it.

In time, that will change, Governor Hutchinson said. He noted, too, that internet commerce had devastated Main Street commerce and battered tax collections. It's ironic that legislators, who get paid fat salaries and expenses thanks to local tax collections, are happy to let people take their business out of state to internet merchants with offices in states where they DO have to collect the taxes.

I have a further axe to grind. Little Rock City Directors joined the chorus supporting internet tax legislation, but their voices came way too late and were out of tune then.

City Director Dean Kumpuris, among others, lamented to an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter that sales tax collections in Little Rock in 2016 had dropped from the year before. He blamed it all on the nasty old internet.

If only it were that simple.

Kumpuris and others choose to overlook Little Rock's generally tepid growth against many others in the region.

If the internet is the villain, wouldn't it reflect everywhere? But state sales tax collections rose from $2.05 billion in 2015 to $2.14 billion in 2016. In Pulaski County, collection of the countywide sales tax rose from $84 million to $88.8 million. Collections in Cabot rose from $8.6 million to $9.1 million. They rose in Maumelle from $2.4 million to $2.5 million. They rose in Benton from $15.4 million to $16.8 million. They rose in Conway from $24 million to $24.2 million. Bryant held steady at $13 million.

Mayor Mark Stodola boasted during his State of the City speech about population growth in the metropolitan area. Alas, that growth is coming more from Saline, Faulkner and Lonoke counties than it is coming from Little Rock. Where the main Bryant exit once featured a dairy bar as its primary commercial option, there's now a sprawling shopping center with brands that once could be found only in Little Rock.

And still city directors want to blame money problems on the internet. It also seems content to further decimate downtown neighborhoods so people can get home to those suburban cities faster on a wider concrete gulch of a freeway. For decades, it has contributed to the degradation of the city school district — even today many of the directors won't stand up for local control. The schools are an important factor in the movement to the suburbs.

The internet is a problem on revenue, sure. But an internet sales tax won't solve what ails Little Rock. 

What if a day comes when an internet tax is collected? When the people who live in Sheridan, Lonoke, Cabot, Ward, Benton, Bryant, Conway, Greenbrier, Vilonia, Maumelle, Jacksonville and North Little Rock go home at night after work in Little Rock and log on to the internet to buy stuff, the taxes won't accrue to Little Rock's benefit. They'll stay where the buyers live.

Policymaking that builds the city, not the suburbs, is a smarter course.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • North Little Rock mayor shows downtown plaza plan

    North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith is presenting a plan to the City Council tonight for a downtown plaza meant to augment planned private developments and further enhanced downtown as a destination.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • Attorney general asks for continued secrecy on execution drugs

    As expected, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has asked the Arknasas Supreme Court for an "emergency stay" of a lower court ruling that the Correction Department must produce labels from one of the drugs used in executions.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • Groups seek end to commercial collection of wild turtles

    Several environmental organizations to end commercial turtle collection in Arkansas.The harvests (more than 126,000 turtles from 2014 to 2016) are not sustainable and that, in turn, is damaging to ecosystems, the groups said.
    • Sep 25, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Aid politics

    The still-unfolding catastrophe in Houston is, first, a human tragedy. But when politicians try to tell you that a time of enormous human tragedy is not a time to talk about politics, it likely means the politics are embarrassing to them.
    • Aug 31, 2017
  • Save the statues!

    The Democratic Party of Arkansas has called for relocation of Confederate monuments from public places, such as courthouse squares and the Capitol lawn, to history museums or private grounds.
    • Aug 24, 2017
  • Charter secret

    These are hard times for those who believe in traditional public schools, run by democratically elected representatives, open to all on equal terms.
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

September

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Sex on campus

    • Nobody is blaming the victim. There also isn't some sinister patriarchy going on, it is…

    • on September 25, 2017
  • Re: Sex on campus

    • I'm in my 50's. I don't think I know a single woman who HASN'T been…

    • on September 25, 2017
  • Re: Sex on campus

    • Here we see a "social scientist" who begins with an ad hominem argument, and then…

    • on September 24, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation