Internet sales tax bill advances in Legislature

In Nebraska, for the most part, internet purchases do not have a sales tax, but on Thursday, a bill to change that passed the 2nd round of debate with only one more round to go.

For many small businesses in Nebraska, it’s been a pretty big hurdle to jump when competing with online stores.

“I don’t know if excited is the word maybe relieved, it’s about time they’ve been anticipating for so long and putting up with the unfairness for so long that I think brick and mortar retailers will breathe a little sigh of relief and say it’s about time,” Jim Otto President of Nebraska Retail Federation said.

If the bill become law, Nebraska could be seeing somewhere in the range of $30 million in extra tax revenue a year, which some senators say this could help with property tax relief.

“If we don’t move in this direction we’re going to continually lose sales tax revenue, which means it’s much harder to fix the property tax or income tax problem,” Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn said.

In the city of Lincoln if this does get passed they are projected to see $900,000 to $1.2 million in extra tax revenue.

But city officials say sales tax is a tricky thing for a city or a state to depend on.

“It’s really hard to tell I mean yea we are talking about 900,000 to 1.2 million which is a significant number but when you think about the overall fluctuation of sales tax within the budgets the most economically sensitive revenue stream that we have so it’s really early to tell,” Brandon Kauffman the Lincoln Finance Director said.

For Nebraska businesses, this could help them compete with the big online stores.

“It will, will people stop online… no. But I think that it will level the playing field and if you did shop online just to avoid the sales tax which by the way is already owed you owe it even though you don’t pay it. That excuse is going away,” Otto said.

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