Friday, August 31, 2012

Driving Customers Out of State

When will states catch up to the Internet age? Maybe it will take generational replacement before state and local politicians get it.

Case in point: Many online purchases are free of state sales tax if the seller is physically located outside the state. A National Bureau of Economic Research study measured how much this tax-free incentive affects buying decisions, and it's considerable. Every 1-percentage point increase in a state's sales tax boosts online purchases by 2 percent and shifts 3 to 4 percent of online purchases from in-state to out-of-state retailers.

So much for small-business boosterism by state and local politicians. Until they address this issue, they are driving customers out of state.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, "Sales Taxes and Internet Commerce," NBER Working Paper 18018 ($5)

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