The COVID-19 Pandemic has certainly been a rollercoaster, from the public health implications to the economic impacts. We have all learned a lot through these last two months, especially our ability to adjust to an unprecedented situation.
Something else we learned is that consumers continue to shift their focus to online shopping. I think it is safe to say we all spent a little more time online than normal during the stay-at-home order, and maybe even gave in to some Amazon advertisements. Various sources estimate online sales have increased anywhere between 25 and 50 percent this year.
While the ease and convenience of online shopping continues to take over our culture, local municipalities are having to account for lost revenue due to this shift in commerce. When you buy an item from a brick and mortar store, you pay sales tax on that item. A portion of that sales tax goes to your local municipality. In the case of Ozark, you pay 2.375 percent sales tax, which is one of the lowest rates in the region. That 2.375-percent tax goes to the city’s general revenue fund, which provides money to the police department, parks and recreation and other important entities.
However, it does not work like that when you buy an item online, since Ozark does not have a use tax in place. That sounds like a pretty nice deal to the consumer, but if you think about it as a citizen, you might see a different perspective. Each time we choose to shop online, the city of Ozark misses out on a percentage of the money it uses to provide us with essential services. If a sales tax is not implemented and online sales continue to increase, the city may no longer have the necessary resources to properly fund vital services.
Not only are Ozark citizens put at a disadvantage by a lack of sales tax on online purchases, but small businesses are also feeling the disruptions brought on by e-commerce. Consumers pay less overall by shopping online, which makes it difficult for brick and mortar stores to keep up with competition. Here at Show Me Christian County, we are proud of the way our local businesses stood up and made sacrifices to keep our community safe through the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it is our turn to stand up for our local business owners, level the playing field, and vote “yes” on June 2 for the Ozark use tax.
President and CEO
Show Me Christian County, Economic Development