FINANCE

Online sales tax bill approved by Arkansas Senate

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — The Arkansas Senate voted Thursday to require many out-of-state online retailers to collect sales taxes the same way in-state stores do, a move that is pitting Wal-Mart Stores against online stores and anti-tax activists, the Associated Press reported.

The bill would require out-of-state online retailers to collect Arkansas sales taxes if their annual sales in the state exceed $10,000. The measure would apply to retailers that have online affiliates in Arkansas, who directly or indirectly refer customers for a commission or some other consideration.

Under current law, customers are required to pay state sales taxes on items they buy online but the burden is on them to report and pay the taxes to the state.

State officials say the change would have a minimal financial benefit to the state, and said it would depend on the response of online retailers such as Amazon.com. When similar legislation was enacted in Rhode Island and North Carolina, Amazon ended its affiliate program so it could continue selling in the states. A spokesman for Amazon did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

One of the biggest backers of the proposal is Wal-Mart Stores, which said the legislation would level the playing field between retailers and online businesses, according to the report.

The proposed change faces heavy opposition from the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform.

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FINANCE

Consumer Sentiment Index falls more than estimated to 68.2

BY CSA STAFF

Ann Arbor, Mich. — A report released Friday by Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan showed that confidence among U.S. consumers fell more than forecast in March, precipitated by a surge in fuel prices.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index fell to 68.2, the lowest in five months, from 77.5 in February. The gauge was projected to decline to 76.3, according to a Bloomberg News survey. The index of expectations plunged to the lowest level since March 2009.

The nine-point drop in sentiment this month was the biggest since October 2008, the last time average gasoline prices topped $3.50 a gallon.

Estimates for the confidence measure ranged from 74 to 80, according to the Bloomberg survey. While the index averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession that began December 2007, it hasn’t reached that level since the recovery started in June 2009.

“Consumers are reacting to the run-up in gas prices, which accelerated in the middle of February,” Ryan Wang, an economist at HSBC Securities USA in New York, told Bloomberg. “It’s taking up a bigger portion of their wallet. If fuel prices rise even further, it could be a threat to consumer spending.”

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OPERATIONS

JLL executive joins Corporate Solutions practice

BY CSA STAFF

Chicago — Jones Lang LaSalle said Friday that Cedric Thurman has joined the firm’s Corporate Retail Solutions practice. As senior VP, Thurman will focus on enhancing the firm’s ability to deliver profit-enhancing strategies to meet the retail industry’s growing demand for strategic outsourced real estate services.

Thurman is based out of Jones Lang LaSalle’s Chicago office, reporting to Lew Kornberg, managing director, Corporate Retail Solutions.

Joining Jones Lang LaSalle in 2000, Thurman most recently served as the firm’s chief diversity officer, advancing diversity and inclusion within the firm in the United States and Canada.

The CRS team provides an end-to-end suite of services, from strategic and market planning, site acquisition, project and asset management.

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