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Small Business Uneasy About Tax Collection Bills

"This is the only way we can sell this," he says.

There's already some precedent â¿¿ and a process â¿¿for making sales tax collection less burdensome. In 1999, the National Governor's Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures created the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement to make taxes easier to collect. The Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board, or SSTGB, was formed to carry out the agreement. To help reduce the hassle of tax collection, the SSTGB has contracted with software developers to come up with programs designed to compute the correct tax.

One such program, TaxCloud, is designed to keep track of changes in state and local tax laws and will file sales tax returns on behalf of sellers, according to David Campbell, CEO of The Federal Tax Authority, one of the SSTGB's developers.

NEVER THAT SIMPLE

Laura Zander, a retailer of yarn and sewing suppliers, is skeptical. She also has a background in software development.

"It's really easy, free software, but it's never that simple," says Zander, owner of Jimmy Beans Wool in Reno, Nev. "You just can't program it as easily as they say you can."

Zander, who had $6.5 million in sales last year, believes that compliance with the law would be expensive.

"Think about the complications â¿¿ on a monthly or quarterly basis, filing and tracking payments," she says. "That's an extra $50,000 or $75,000 a year in programming fees, bookkeeping, management. That's a lot."

The Electronic Retailing Association, a trade group that's fighting the legislation in Congress, also says that it will be expensive for sellers to comply.

"Even if you have software that's good, to integrate the coding on the (seller's) end of these elaborate sales systems is a pretty big thing â¿¿ even for an Amazon," says Bill McClellan, vice president for government affairs for the ERA. "That will leave these little guys out in the lurch."

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