Op/Ed: Use Tax is Opportunity for Growth

by Andrea Sitzes

Last Saturday, I went to Sam’s Club off Campbell in Springfield to pick up a few items of which I was running low. As I walked up to the entrance, I noticed the line of people standing out the door waiting to get inside. My first thought was, “I should have done an online order.”

Thanks to the amazing technology known as the Internet, our brains have been re-wired to embrace a new level of convenience. Gone are the days of standing in line on Black Friday because you want to beat everyone else to the best deal. Now, you just wait until Cyber Monday and score those deals from the comfort of your own home.

This shift to online shopping is making national headlines, especially through COVID-19. In an article entitled “How the Pandemic will Change American Retail Forever” appearing in The Atlantic, Derek Thompson says, “One-third of Americans bought groceries online in the past month, and tens of millions of them did it for the first time… Online shopping’s share of total retail sales has been increasing approximately one percentage point per year, but a recent UBS analysis predicted that COVID-19 will immediately increase that share from 15 percent to 25 percent—a decade of change concentrated in several months.”

While I am certainly an advocate for shopping local as much as possible, I recognize the value online shopping brings to consumers and businesses. As a result of its rapid increase through the COVID-19 Pandemic, it is clear that consumers have deemed Internet sales as their primary shopping method of the future. That is why it is so important for Ozark citizens to consider what this means for their City.

At Show Me Christian County, it is our honor to work on behalf of every community located inside of Christian County, including Ozark. We take pride in the amenities that make Christian County unique, since those assets help us market the County to new and perspective businesses. Parks, trails, and infrastructure are vital to future development and growth opportunities for any community, which is why it is so concerning that Ozark does not have an Internet sales tax.

An Internet sales tax, better known as a use tax, simply requires online merchants to charge sales tax, which is then issued to the municipality in which the purchase was made. In Ozark, brick and mortar stores charge a 2.375% sales tax, which is the exact same amount consumers would pay on online purchases if the use tax passes. 

You see, it is the responsibility of your local government to offer services that citizens expect, like roads and public safety. In Ozark, those items, among many others, are paid for by sales tax dollars. The longer Ozark goes without a use tax, the harder it will be for the City to support economic development projects. If a City cannot provide support to economic development, that community will be left behind.

It is clear our spending habits have changed, which is why the way we are taxed must change. If we want future growth for our County, especially in Ozark, we must ensure our local government can continue to provide us with essential services.

For the future of Ozark, and for the future of our County, we encourage Ozark citizens to vote “yes” on June 2.

Andrea Sitzes is the President and CEO of Show Me Christian County

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