STAMFORD - Republican gubernatorial candidate John McKinney says he supports national efforts to tax internet sales, backing a fix that has been considered in Congress repeatedly but never garnered the support to pass.
McKinney, the state senate minority leader who is campaigning for an Aug. 12 primary, went door-to-door here Tuesday at a shopping strip occupied almost entirely by non-national chains. He talked with local business owners about the difficulties competing with online retailers, whose sales are not taxed.
"A lot of mom and pop stores get hurt by Internet sales," McKinney said, standing outside a local sporting goods retailer. "The argument years ago was always let's not…stunt the growth of internet sales. I think we're well beyond concerns about the internet sales' ability to survive."
McKinney said the "easiest solution" would be for Congress to pass national sales tax legislation to ensure "fairness across the board." He said that if in-store and online purchases were treated equally, the sales tax could eventually be lowered because it would increase the number of sales off of which revenues could be collected. A 2012 study from the National Conference of State Legislatures estimated Connecticut lost $64 million in uncollected tax revenues due to online sales.
Last year, the U.S. Senate gave bipartisan approval to legislation that would authorize states to collect taxes on internet sales. Connecticut's two U.S. Senators, Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, supporting the bill. U.S. Rep. John Larson, a first district Democrat, was an original co-sponsor of identical legislation in the house.
If elected governor, McKinney would not have control over the national legislation. But on the campaign trail Tuesday, he spoke with the owner at the sporting goods store about recent policies that have worsened the problem. The owner told him that when sales tax exemptions on clothing and footwear costing less than $50 or $75 were eliminated, he noticed a decline in business as customers were driven to the Internet. The General Assembly this year restored an exemption on items costing less than $50. McKinney has said that as governor, he would guarantee the clothing and footwear sales tax exemption.
McKinney is running against former U.S. Ambassador Tom Foley in next week's primary.