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Baldwin "yes", Johnson "no" as U.S. Senate approves internet sales tax

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)   Wisconsin’s two U-S senators split their votes yesterday, when the Senate agreed to force online retailers to charge state sales taxes – just like brick-and-mortar stores have to do. The measure was passed 69-to-27.

Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin voted yes, and Republican Ron Johnson voted no. He said he favors a level playing field but the bill puts “too much of a burden on online retailers.” The bill now goes to the House, where observers say it faces tougher sledding. State revenue officials say Wisconsin would get an extra $95-million a year, once an Internet sales tax is fully implemented. Right now, only stores with a physical presence in a state must charge sales tax on Web purchases within that state.

Wisconsin shoppers are supposed to voluntarily report sales taxes on their income tax returns – but relatively few people do so. Sheboygan jeweler Alan Rudnick said the current situation puts him at a 5-percent cost disadvantage against Internet retailers who don’t have to charge the sales tax like he does.

Catalog retailer Miles Kimball of Oshkosh says it would be a headache to keep each state’s sales tax straight, and provide refunds to those who overpay the tax. Stores with less than a million dollars a year in online sales would be exempt from the proposed law.