GOP lawmaker open to collecting Internet sales tax

Greg Davids
State Rep. Greg Davids, R-Preston, chairman of the House tax committee, says he would support a proposal to collect Internet sales taxes in Minnesota.
MPR File Photo/Tim Pugmire

A proposal to collect Internet sales taxes in Minnesota has support from Gov. Mark Dayton and the Republican chairman of the House Taxes Committee.

State Rep. Greg Davids says he's opposed collecting taxes from online-only retailers in the past, when few states did it.

"I didn't want Minnesota to be an island sitting out there. Well, now there's about 14 to 15 states — California, Illinois, Texas, New York state, some of the bigger states," Davids said. "We're reaching a critical mass here and I think its time has come."

He said current policy is hurting Minnesota businesses, such as Drury's Furniture in Fountain, Minn., which often sees customers come in to browse — only to make purchases online.

"They'll see what the price is, then they'll go online and order from Thomasville, N.C., have it drop shipped for nothing and get out of paying 7 percent sales tax on a $20,000 purchase," he said. "Drury's Furniture ... they pay their property taxes, they pay for the schools, they're paying for all the public services, and they're losing the sale," he said.

Davids said he hopes to persuade other Republican lawmakers that it's not a new tax, and he points out that it won't bring in enough to solve long-term budget issues.

Online retailers such as Amazon have fought such policies. Amazon has offered to build new distribution centers in Florida that would create jobs — in exchange for not paying sales taxes for two years.

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.