ICSC Ads and Videos Promote Sales Tax Fairness

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With two sales tax fairness bills under consideration in Congress and the holiday shopping season well under way, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) has placed full-page ads in support of sales tax equity in a number of publications, including the New York Times. In addition, ICSC has launched a sales tax fairness video series, with the first featuring Betsy Burton of The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“With online sales growing four times faster than sales made at bricks-and-mortar retailers, ICSC believes it is critical to increase awareness of the issue,” said Betsy Laird, senior vice president of global public policy for ICSC, which has 60,000 members in the U.S., Canada, and more than 80 other countries.  “We need Congress to take action on a solution that provides all retailers with the opportunity to compete and thrive in a 21st century marketplace. Now there are two bipartisan bills in Congress — HR 3179 and S 1832 — that do just that.”

In addition to the New York Times, the full-page ads (all of which can be found on ICSC’s website) were placed in the Wall Street Journal, CQ Today, Politico, Roll Call, and Governing.  These aren’t the first sales tax fairness ads ICSC has run, however. Over the summer, the association ran a half-page ad in the July 21 edition of the WSJ and placed a four-page wrap in the Weekly Standard.

In the ICSC sales tax fairness video below, shot at The King’s English, Burton stresses: “When one segment of retail has to collect a tax and the other doesn’t that creates an unlevel playing field. In Utah that amounts to about 10 percent. In any business, you can’t operate at a 10 percent disadvantage. Government should never be in a position of picking one piece of the retail economy and saying you get an advantage over someone else. That’s not fair, that’s not right and, basically, it’s anti-capitalism.”

As to why she agreed to do the video, Burton said, “I think it’s so vital that we all do everything we can to get the message out to our senators and congressmen and women as quickly as we can, both by talking to them and by talking to the public. I believe that this is a fairness issue and that once people know the facts logic is on our side. In the long run we’ll convince people of that but I’m afraid we don’t have time to talk about the long run.”

There is a sense of urgency to the sales tax fairness issue and retailers and legislators don’t have years to decide the issue, Burton continued.  “No business can compete indefinitely against a 10 percent disadvantage and that’s what we’re being forced to do as long as internet retailers don’t collect sales tax,” she said. “As more and more bricks-and-mortar stores fall by the wayside precisely because they can’t compete at a 10 percent disadvantage, local economies across the country are increasingly drained of revenue.”

The print ad in the December 5 edition of the New York Times shows a mock mug shot of a shocked shopper with a placard stating her crime: “Failure to Pay Sales Taxes.” The bold headline of this particular ad reads: “Don’t Let Internet Retailers Turn You into a Tax Cheat This Holiday Season.”

Betsy Burton in ICSC video on Vimeo.