Why the de­lay?

The money is wait­ing

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

For the sec­ond time now, the Rev­enue and Tax­a­tion Com­mit­tee of the Arkansas House has put off pick­ing up the rev­enue from a state sales tax—money that would go far to ease the bur­den on the al­ready over­bur­dened cit­i­zens and tax­pay­ers of this state. How far? Es­ti­mates vary. Maybe $32 mil­lion a year in in­creased rev­enue, maybe $100 mil­lion a year. Nei­ther is a sum to be sneezed at in this era or any other. And all the Leg­is­la­ture has to do is de­cide to col­lect it.

Till now, a com­pany has had to have some phys­i­cal con­nec­tion to the state of Arkansas if it is to be taxed by this state, but it took only four days af­ter the state Se­nate passed a bill to start col­lect­ing the tax on on­line sales for a re­spon­si­ble and ac­count­able com­pany like Ama­zon to an­nounce that it would be­gin col­lect­ing the sales tax on its busi­ness in Arkansas start­ing next month—and re­mit­ting the pro­ceeds to the state’s cof­fers. Other com­pa­nies are just wait­ing to be taxed and send in their checks. There’s no rea­son for fur­ther de­lay ex­cept the usual leg­isla­tive bick­er­ing. It’s time for the gov­er­nor, The Hon. Asa Hutchin­son, to step in and break the im­passe. He a leader, and it’s time he ex­er­cised lead­er­ship on this one.

It’s not as if We the Peo­ple were try­ing to squeeze the lit­tle guy: An out-of-state com­pany would have to report a gross rev­enue of more than $100,000 a year from its prod­ucts and/or ser­vices in Arkansas or have made at least 200 sales in this state to pay the tax. Lord knows there are more than enough cry­ing needs to be met here in Arkansas, as the leader of the Democrats in the House—Michael John Gray of Au­gusta—was quick to point out. He would spec­ify that $25 mil­lion of the pro­ceeds from th­ese now un­col­lected taxes would be spent on a va­ri­ety of causes. Like ru­ral fire and po­lice pro­tec­tion, pre-kinder­garten ed­u­ca­tion, af­ter-school ac­tiv­i­ties, and the state’s Med­i­caid pro­gram. Med­i­caid alone has a wait­ing list of dis­abled peo­ple who need help. A skep­ti­cal ci­ti­zen can be par­doned for doubt­ing the ef­fi­cacy of some of th­ese pro­grams, but not their good in­ten­tions. Repub­li­cans, for their part, have very good rea­sons to not want ear­marks, yet more ear­marks, for this money.

Rep. Gray said he was propos­ing his leg­is­la­tion to have “some con­ver­sa­tion about where the state rev­enue is go­ing. Are we go­ing to con­tinue to not to ad­dress th­ese very im­por­tant needs and just spend rev­enue in other places?” Or what about pay­ing for tax cuts or sav­ing the money for a rainy day? There is more than one way to look at this. Con­ver­sa­tion can be an art; it can also be a pre­lim­i­nary stage of the way to an agree­ment that ben­e­fits all. But it can also be a lot of wasted breath un­less it leads to ac­tion.

The ac­tion in this case would be sim­ple and ef­fec­tive enough: Col­lect the taxes on out-of-state sales. With­out kick­ing the can far­ther down the road and leav­ing it to an­other ses­sion of the Leg­is­la­ture, or even an­other gen­er­a­tion, to do the heavy lift­ing for all of us. There are plenty of ex­cuses be­ing of­fered for avoid­ing this con­tro­versy, but there’s hardly a good rea­son in the bunch. By all means, col­lect the tax and col­lect it forth­with. For time is still money, as any good banker knows.

THE LE­GAL foun­da­tion for col­lect­ing this state’s sales taxes on out-of­s­tate com­pa­nies has al­ways been solid. As long as one of th­ese out-of-state be­he­moths had a foothold in Arkansas, it could be re­quired to col­lect Arkansas taxes. Fair enough, le­gal enough. By now the good, tax­pay­ing vot­ers and cit­i­zens of this state have been kept wait­ing long enough for a lit­tle help from those out­fits that have made a for­tune off their cus­tomers here in the Won­der State, cus­tomers who can still use the money. So thank you, hurry back and don’t be a stranger, out-of­s­tate com­pany. See you next time, part­ner. Be­cause a part­ner is what you’ve made your­self when you share in the prof­its. If that’s the case, and it is, how about putting some­thing in the kitty?

So long as busi­ness is good and get­ting bet­ter, part­ners in any en­ter­prise aren’t likely to have a fall­ing-out. At the mo­ment, all is coming up daf­fodils for all con­cerned here in Arkansas. Why spoil a good deal? And miss a fine op­por­tu­nity in this Land of Op­por­tu­nity, as this state’s li­cense plates used to pro­claim and still could?

This is still a state on the grow. Why ne­glect any op­por­tu­nity to keep it grow­ing? Es­pe­cially an op­por­tu­nity that has fallen into our laps. And needs to be seized upon. This state wasn’t built by folks who didn’t know an op­por­tu­nity when they saw one. And this one is un­mis­tak­able. For there’s no need to pass a new tax to take ad­van­tage of this op­por­tu­nity, just col­lect the one that’s al­ready on the books. Some of us can al­ready hear those cash reg­is­ters ring, and it’s mu­sic to our ears.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.