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LR Mayor: Local Govt. Gets Ripped Off On Cyber Monday

The National Retail Federation says 131 million Americans will shop online throughout Cyber Monday.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- The National Retail Federation says 131 million Americans will shop online throughout Cyber Monday.
  
It's big business for some of the largest retailers, but for local government, it means dollars leaving the state and never returning.

"State and local government are really the big losers in this in terms of what is a tax that should be collected and simply is not," said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola.

Over the last two years, Stodola says Little Rock missed out on $2.6 million in revenue because many online retailers are not required to collect sales tax.
  
It's money the mayor says could go to vital services like "police, fire, public works, our streets, our roads, our 911 system."

Stodola says the online loophole is hurting local brick and mortar stores.

"We're trying our best to get in there," said Jeanne Johansson, owner of Scarlet clothing in west Little Rock.

Johansson says going up against cheaper, online sellers is a challenge.

"It's definitely harder," she said.  "We want to compete with those people, and we carry a lot of the same brands."

Kerry McCoy with Arkansas Flag and Banner also adjusting to the competition. Like Johansson, she's done so by investing in a strong presence online.

"They are definitely changing the way we do business," McCoy said.

To even things up, Stodola supports a law to force online retailers to collect state and local sales taxes.

"It's only a matter of simple fairness," Stodola said.

A bill that proposes to do just what the mayor is talking about has been offered by Arkansas Republican congressman Steve Womack.
  
But even some of the small online sellers are leery about that. They worry about having to figure out how to pay taxes on orders coming in from all across the country.
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