Views from Kansas: Perspective on online taxes
Editor’s Note: Views from Kansas is a regular feature that highlights editorials and other viewpoints from across the state.
Overall, it makes abundant sense for Kansas to collect sales tax paid on internet purchases. The Supreme Court has paved the way for such a move, and it just makes sense in today’s connected world: If you do most of your shopping online while living in Kansas, you should be paying the same sales tax as someone shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.
But there’s a big dispute brewing over how Kansas has chosen to collect that tax.
Let’s hand it over to The Associated Press for some context: “The state Department of Revenue issued a notice last week saying any ‘remote seller’ doing business with Kansas residents must register with the department, collect state and local sales taxes and forward the revenues to the state, starting Oct. 1. It cites a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year allowing states to collect sales taxes on Internet sales.”
That’s any remote seller, no matter how small, with no minimum amount of sales. That’s caused critics of Gov. Laura Kelly and her administration to cry foul, and they have called on Attorney General Derek Schmidt to advise on the legality of the move.
Again, according to the AP, Kansas Revenue Secretary Mark Burghart sees the issue in black and white. The department should uphold the law — collecting the tax — and it isn’t allowed to exempt anyone without legislative action.
The House and Senate did pass bills last session that dealt with collecting online sales tax, but those tweaks were folded into a larger package of corporate and individual tax cuts. Kelly vetoed the bills, citing concerns about lost revenue, and her moves were sustained.
It’s unfortunate that lawmakers didn’t choose to handle these issues separately, because their decision seems to have led to the current impasse.
Overall, we believe that those who owe taxes to the state should pay them. Taxes help fund the backbone services that everyone in this state relies upon — Kelly, Schmidt and Senate President Susan Wagle alike. A fair and broad taxation regime makes sense.
But it ultimately doesn’t make sense to include every single small internet seller. It could make lawbreakers of folks who are simply selling a couple of old chairs or some other items online.
We understand that Burghart doesn’t see any alternative now, but perhaps that means he might wait until the Legislature takes appropriate, considered action.
— Originally published in The Topeka Capital-Journal.