State sales-tax rules not simple



That was the U-B Editorial Board’s one word assessment of the argument that nationwide sales tax collection requirements would create complicated rules for small retailers.

The U-B can enjoy the luxury of that opinion because its product is not subject to sales tax. Let us perform a simple thought experiment with only two assumptions:

  1. Newspapers are subject to sales tax at the delivery address.

  2. A large Washington state employer has just decided that all 1,000 of its statewide employees should receive home delivery of the U-B as a perk.

While U-B management would be delighted at the new subscribers, blood would drain from the faces of those in the accounting department as they looked at their new challenge.

Accounting would need to determine the tax district and rate for each delivery address. Then every quarter the accounting department would have a line on its B&O tax report for each distinct district. There would be hundreds of districts. And districts would change frequently as each city, county and transit system in the state revised rates or boundaries

Washington state is among the worst offenders for complex sales tax reporting. Now multiply that by the 44 other states that have a sales tax. The challenge for retailers, especially small retailers who hope to grow, is daunting.

My support of Main Street, mom and pop, brick and mortar is solid. I have no objection to simple national rules for sales tax collection. But the assertion that sales tax collection is a minor burden?


Larry Nelson

Walla Walla


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