"No doubt about it, Amazon is driving us out of business," said Kelly von Plonski, owner of in the Loop at a news conference on Monday.
She said her store is hanging on by a thread, and most likely her store isn't much different from that of hundreds of businesses across the state.
Von Plonski and a handful of Loop business owners spoke out in support of a bill that would enforce the sales tax collection from online merchants.
"This is a very important issue for us," said Mike Weiss, owner of Big Shark Bicycle Company in the Loop. "Every year we notice that Internet sales pick up a larger and larger percentage of what's sold in America."
He said it's unfair competition when his business and others in the Loop have to collect sales tax on purchases made in their stores, but online merchants rarely pay. "We're handicapped." He said at the end of the day people are going to go with the cheaper option because they want to save money.
“These sales taxes are already levied. They are not new taxes. This is an effort to recoup on assessed tax that is not being collected, and to level the playing field,” said Representative Ellinger. He estimates the state of Missouri is losing as much as $200 million dollars a year.
Von Plonski said Missouri business owners start at a 10 percent disadvantage and have to fight uphill from there. "We're only asking that the state legislature enforce these existing tax laws so we can fight on a level field."
Von Plonski said her independent bookstore is struggling to succeed against huge online book warehouse organizations that do not collect or remit sales taxes.
She said "it angers me that the legislature lets huge online enterprises get away with dodging sales tax collecting responsibilities." We collect and remit sales tax to the state of Missouri. Amazon does none of these things, said von Plonski.