When Big Online Retailers cheat the system, they harm our communities!
Updated: Jun 11, 2019
It was only a few months ago that I found out through research that Georgia is one of the states losing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue because big e-commerce retailers like Walmart.com and Etsy are dodging paying taxes. Admittedly, I wasn’t moved a great deal by this news because I generally assume that most big corporations are evading taxes on some level. However, as I kept learning about the issue I realized that it’s about more than big business tax evasion, it’s about the millions of dollars in revenue not going into communities that desperately need it. It was the realization of this fact that began to deeply disturb me and prompted the formation of the Faith, Justice and Truth Project.
It is a moral travesty that local municipalities throughout Georgia are losing funds that rightly belong to them because retailers like Walmart and others are not properly following the law and collecting sales tax on third party sales, among other things. As a pastor and organizer who works in communities that are routinely under-resourced and under-funded, I find this highly problematic. In our state, sales tax revenue funds such things as education, health-care, public safety and transportation initiatives. So when major online retailers like Walmart cheat the system, they are also, in effect, robbing our communities of important public services.
To be clear, there is nothing stopping big online retailers from remitting tax on third-party sales right now. However, they are waiting for some legislative action to force them to do it. From my viewpoint, the loss of public services due to their inaction is unacceptable and those of us who consider ourselves moral leaders must stand up and say so! This is why we’ve formed the Faith, Justice and Truth Project. To be a civic engagement institute dedicated to educating the public on matters of economic justice and faith-based social change. Though there are many commendable civic engagement organizations in our state, FJTP is distinct because it’s committed to bringing together high quality policy research, social analysis and progressive moral conscience. We hope our first report on “Georgia Sales Tax Erosion” demonstrates this commitment and we look forward to publishing more reports in the coming days.
We hope you will spread the word about our work and consider supporting the cause. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of [injustice] is for good [people] to do nothing.” So now is not the time to sit this fight out! We need people of goodwill from all over to help us send a message to big online retailers like Walmart, Etsy and others that our public services matter!