KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If you shop online, listen up.
The Marketplace Fairness Act is gathering steam inside the US Congress. If the bill becomes a law, a state sales tax could be added to each purchase you make online.
The proposed internet sales tax is now headed for the US House of Representatives for approval. Businesses here in Kansas City say it will either enable them or cripple them -- depending on their business model.
Christy Chester might as well be an e-commerce pioneer. 20 years after Boyle Meats built its original website, she's still fielding credit card orders from online shoppers seeking a taste of Kansas City meat. She claims Boyle Meats was the first meat company to have established a presence on the Worldwide Web.
"I don't mind paying taxes," Chester said.
However, that doesn't include an online sales tax. Chester says competition is already fierce enough for website based businesses, and adding a new tax will hit her company in the pocketbook.
"We're not a low-dollar item," Chester said. "If we have to start putting sales tax on top of that, you might as well buy local."
Chester says adding an online sales tariff will also drown her small office in the West Bottoms in paperwork and red tape.
Meanwhile, in Overland Park, an online sales tax is music to Dan Phillips' ears.
Customers often stop into Vinyl Renaissance and Audio for CDs, records, or equipment on which to play it.
"This is something people don't buy without being able to put their hands on it.," Phillips said, making reference to his stock of high-end audio gear.
But as it stands, customers buy the same equipment online. The new sales tax would help Dan turn more shoppers into buyers.
"The incentive to avoid sales tax will not exist," Phillips said. "Pricing from us will be the same as one of the large online audio suppliers or record dealers."
Phillips figures he's losing as much as $100,000 worth of business each year to online competition.
"It is that sales tax that trips the sale," Phillips added. "The fact that someone doesn't have to pay sales tax on it."
Chester also says an internet sales tax would cause a logistical nightmare for her, trying to keep up with different sales tax rates in all US states and territories.
That bill says $114 billion in potential tax money went uncollected last year.