Online sales tax? 'I think it would be a huge mistake'

Online sales tax? 'I think it would be a huge mistake' »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. - Cash-hungry state governments are reconsidering taxing sales on the Internet. 

It’s an issue that brought U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden to Eugene on Thursday.

Wyden, D-Oregon, called the Internet the shipping lane of the 21st century, infrastructure that fuels commerce and grows jobs.  

He said sales taxes on e-commerce would be unfair to Oregon businesses, especially in a state that has no sales tax.

The issue united e-commerce and small business leaders in Eugene.

They met around the table with Wyden, who said he was in their corner. 

“I think it would be a huge mistake to turn Oregon entrepreneurs into green eye-shade bookkeepers for the government,” Wyden said.

Matt Patton of the Tactics skate and snowboard shop said taxing online sales would make it harder for small e-tailers to compete.

“We've been competing with Amazon and big box retailers for a number of years," he said. "It's hard and getting harder as it is.”

Patton said if a customer in Kansas goes online to buy a board from Tactics, Tactics would have to collect the sales tax due Kansas. He said it likely wouldn't faze e-commerce big guys like Amazon, but for small operations, it would be a burden.

“It's not feasible; it's definitely not what we do,” he said.

With 40 people on staff and a payroll of about $1.5 million a year, Patton said Tactics doesn't need to become a collection agency for government.

“It's really more about some big, big, big players,” Patton said, “putting the squeeze on the smaller guys.”