Sales tax crisis is looming on the horizon

By Tom Huerkamp


Dear Editor:

A crisis is looming for local governments that are dependent on sales taxes and it will come crashing down in the near future. Traditional brick and mortar retail is entering its final struggle against certain death. Its impact will first be visited on small rural towns and counties. Internet-based consumer buying is escalating at a far greater rate than most prognosticators expected.

It is urgent that Colorado pass legislation requiring the collection of state sales tax on internet/phone purchases that are being delivered by the Postal Service, UPS, FedEx and soon by services such as the Uber taxi. This legislation must include a provision for the collection and remission of all local government sales tax based on the address of the delivery.

Without this the liklihood of large revenue shortfalls are going to be felt by Delta County and all towns with sales tax as a part of their revenues. In the case of Delta County this will mean declines from the sharing of county tax with all municipalities and entities such as the library district and landfills. For us locally the City of Delta, which has no property tax and relies heavily on sales tax, this crisis could be monumental.

Anyone who does not realize this impending doom of local government revenues certainly has their head deep in the sand. Those who think this is some distant future threat had better check what is happening in major cities around the world with such basics as online grocery shopping, pharmaceutical and drug store items, prepared meals, clothing and even liquor and your evening dinner.

Even the big box brick and mortar stores such as Walmart, Target, Sears and JC Pennys are launching major online platforms to buffer against the future. This is nothing compared to the efforts of Amazon and EBay that are selling for any and everybody. None of these produce one cent of tax for Colorado or any of its counties and towns.

I predict that within five years or less you will see big box stores such as the Wal-Mart here in Delta and neighboring towns disappear as too much of market share will be lost to online purchasing, I doubt that much can be done to stop this trend, so our state and local governments must act with great urgency to protect their revenues by leveling the play field when it comes to sales tax collection.

Tom Huerkamp
Orchard City