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Iowa’s governor and legislators have rectified a significant inequity by requiring online-only retailers to charge sales tax on Iowa sales.

Gov. Terry Branstad signed off on the "e-fairness" legislation, aka House File 625, which levels the retail competition playing field. Online-only retailers have long been enjoying an unfair advantage with the ability to offer customers a purchase price without collecting the sate’s sales tax.

"By signing House File 625, the governor has helped the state make a huge leap forward in helping Iowa businesses have a fighting chance against these giant online-only companies," said Jim Henter, president of the Iowa Retail Federation.

Altogether, 232 Iowa small businesses joined with the Iowa Retail Federation, Iowa Grocers Association and the Iowa Alliance for Main Street Fairness Coalition to encourage state lawmakers to pass the "e-fairness" legislation during this past legislative session.

Of course, it’s not going to sit well with some people — namely online retailers and those who use them often.

It would be nice if there were no sales tax at all, and we could afford all the services we enjoy — and the infrastructure we need — without them. That’s not the reality.

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Our elected officials often remind us how important small businesses are to local economies. The issue was an important one to former state representative Marv Diemer, who passed away in April.

"Why should the small businesses on Main Street and in our malls have to charge sales taxes if Internet retailers do not?," Diemer asked in a Courier guest column early last year. "It is only equitable that Internet retailers conduct business on a level playing field with all small businesses and entrepreneurs in our state."

Well said.

Eliminating the loophole and creating the level playing field was the fair thing to do.

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