On Wed. Feb. 15, the Wyoming State Senate passed House Bill 19 (HB 19), which mandates an Internet sales tax be imposed on purchases made by those in the state from online retailers or retailers who don’t have a physical presence in the state.
“What the bill does is it requires retailers who record 200 or more sales over the Internet to report that to the government,” Representative Mark Baker said.
HB 19 could make living in the state more expensive for those who take advantage of online purchasing.
“The largest impact will those people more involved with Internet purchasing.” Baker said. “Those are the people who are going to be most affected by it.”
This poses a problem for businesses in Wyoming operating from outside the state, for whom students are their main demographic.
“I think it will have an impact on students.” Cowboy Village Apartments Complex Manager Courtnie Haskell, said. “If businesses need to collect more tax, then prices for student housing may be raised.”
The bill may compel businesses to re evaluate the benefits of their online sales.
“I think it’s more of a bureaucratic red tape,” Baker said. “I think it’ll make businesses who report under that threshold reconsider how they go about Internet sales. It could cause business under that limit to eliminate their Internet sales completely.”
The bill could drive some retailers out of the state.
“If there is an advantage to keeping Internet sales of course they will keep them,” Baker said. “But a lot of small retailers don’t want the government involved further involved in their business.”
Haskell said she is hopeful that the damage to Wyoming’s economy will not be too severe.
“Hopefully we won’t see it damaged too badly,” Haskell, said. “[If] the owner is actually based out of Ft. Collins, CO. I don’t think she would be very excited if she had to pay more in taxes,” Haskell said
Baker said HB 19 will not affect Wyomingites the same way that it will businesses operating through online transactions.
“When you start talking taxes people begin to get apprehensive and nervous,” baker said “I don’t necessarily think it will be harmful to individuals in the state, but it will make them nervous.”
Some members of the hospitality industry disagree.
“It definitely could affect tenants, it has the possibility to drive their prices up,” Haskell said.
Hotels around the area could be affected as well, provided they do not operate out of the state.
“Guests won’t be happy with that. With sales tax included with the other taxes we have, that’s something that guests will not be happy with,” Tessa Cadillo, General Manager at the Holliday Inn, said. “Of course if guests aren’t happy it could affect revenue.”