FINANCE

NRF: Online sales tax advantage is ‘stifling’ local stores

BY Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. — The National Retail Federation urged the House Judiciary Committee to support legislation that would require Internet retailers to collect sales tax the same as local merchants, saying online sellers have a price advantage that is “stifling” Main Street stores’ ability to compete.

“Different retailers have different strategies for going to market, but one feature is beyond a retailer’s control – only some collect sales taxes,” NRF senior VP for government relations David French said. “This disadvantage is not created by the marketplace but by the current state of the law following the Quill decision, stifling retailers across the country.”

“As retailing evolves and Internet sales become a more prominent portion of total retail sales, it is critical that Congress address the sales tax collection discrimination that exists between brick-and-mortar and remote retailers,” French said. “Congress must resolve the Constitutional questions posed by the Quill decision in a fashion which promotes a level playing field between retail competitors.”

French’s comments came in written testimony submitted for a hearing today on sales tax fairness legislation. The panel is scheduled to examine constitutional limitations on states’ ability to require out-of-state sellers to collect tax on sales made to their residents.

Online sellers are already required to collect sales tax from customers in their own states, but congressional action is needed because of a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The court ruled in Quill v. North Dakota that retailers are required to collect sales tax from out-of-state customers only if they have a physical presence such as a store, warehouse or office in the customer’s state. The court held that the 45 state and 7,600 local sales tax systems across the nation were too complicated for a retailer to otherwise know how much tax to collect.

Three bills that would address the issue – the Main Street Fairness Act, the Marketplace Equity Act and the Marketplace Fairness Act – are pending in Congress. French said collection authority is a priority, but requirements included in each bill for states to simplify their sales tax systems are also key to ensuring sales tax reform.

French said sales tax fairness legislation would not only level the playing field between retailers but also ease the burden on cash-strapped states that are currently losing an estimated $24 billion a year to untaxed online purchases. Recouping that revenue would help support essential local services such as teachers, police officers, firefighters and ambulance crews, she said.

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OPERATIONS

Parago launches entirely Spanish language fulfillment offering

BY Staff Writer

Lewisville, Texas — Parago, a leading provider of consumer and corporate incentives, announced the launch of a promotional fulfillment service offering designed to reward and communicate to clients’ Spanish-speaking customers in their language of preference.

The new Spanish-language program tailors all communication touch points to the language of the customer’s choosing during reward submission. For example, once a customer identifies preference for the Spanish language, all following communication will be tailored to this preference. Solo Spanish will not only provide better customer service by communicating in native or language-of-preference, it will also make consumer incentives fulfillment more personalized. Some consumer promotions include two languages in all written fulfillment materials – both English and Spanish. Parago’s new program will only have a single version of each communication piece in the language that the consumer selected, speaking directly to the customer and reducing the volume of communication materials.

MetroPCS Communications, a leading provider of unlimited, no annual contract, flat-rate wireless service, has implemented Solo Spanish with great success.

“MetroPCS’ customer-base has a large Spanish-speaking component,” said Phil Terry, senior VP corporate marketing, MetroPCS. “We work with Parago to help drive customer acquisition, deliver incentives and maintain ongoing engagement with our valued customers and now, with dedicated Spanish-language communication, we are able to better serve our customers.

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REAL ESTATE

New retail leases signed at Shoppes @ 104

BY Staff Writer

Kendall Lakes, Fla. — Jacksonville, Fla.-based Regency Centers said that two new merchants have leased space at its Shoppes @ 104 shopping center, in Kendall Lakes, Fla.

Yogurtini has leased 1,400 sq. ft. of retail space, and Great Clips has leased 1,344 sq. ft. The 108,192-sq.-ft. shopping center is anchored by Winn-Dixie, alongside national retailers such as The UPS Store, Subway and GNC.

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