Minnesota’s economy seems to be improving. Our citizens are spending more, and that means shopping, both online and in main street retailers in Elk River and across Minnesota. Unfortunately, Minnesota retailers face unfair competition from online retailers. Nearly everyone shops online and that trend will not reverse anytime soon. Currently online retailers without a brick and mortar location in the state are not required to collect sales tax – giving them an unfair advantage over the “brick and mortar” stores in Minnesota and Elk River. The sales tax for online purchases is supposed to be paid voluntarily by the consumer. This rarely happens and is a very undependable method of enforcement.
The Minnesota Legislature can help level the playing field before the end of this legislative session by requiring all online retailers to collect and remit sales tax. This may increase general fund revenues. More importantly it begins to level the playing field and require the retailer to collect and remit sales tax whether you prefer shopping online or in line.
Retail employers are critical partners as economic drivers in our community. Thousands of local people are employed in the retail sector. For some, it is their first job, for others, it is a multi-generational business. These businesses employ our kids, help families make ends meet, contribute to the band and the baseball team, and pay local and state taxes. Our main street retailers cannot survive without the leadership of our legislators. — Debbi Rydberg, Executive Director of the Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce