A new Oklahoma law means online shoppers will have to pay sales tax. The law should help brick and mortar stores compete, and boost the state’s bottom line.
Lori Dreiling has co-owned Fleet Feet Sports for 13 years, and is skeptical of the new law.
"Skepticism, just because we've seen this before," she said.
Dreiling said, in the last few years, online sales have had a significant impact on her business.
"The price of the shoe may be the same, but online, on those sites you won't have to pay a tax, whereas here you have to pay a tax," she said.
President and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, Mike Neal, said Dreiling is not alone, and that sales tax adds up.
He said Oklahoma loses nearly $300 million a year from online sales, and Tulsa is losing about $20 million of that. It's all because the sales tax isn't being paid, and the new law says shoppers must start reporting it in their taxes.
"The way the law is written is that, at the end of the year, the online retailers have to send you a notice that you spent this much, and it's up to you to actually put that on your taxes. Right now, four percent of the population does that," Dreiling said.
Neal said, "I think the law has some teeth, and really will require that you begin to report this."
Dreiling's skepticism aside, she said she is optimistic the law will have an impact; but both she and Neal say the federal government needs to take the next step.
"This is ultimately something that congress needs to act upon. Congress needs to issue a ruling for our country that says this is how we treat internet sales," Neal said.
Fleet Feet Sports says it charges the sales tax when shoppers buy from them online because they know those tax dollars help pay for good roads and other community needs.