MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Mobile Mayor Sam Jones said he isn't overly concerned about figures showing sales tax collections down from November 2012 compared to the same time in 2011.
Still, he said he and other mayors are pushing a plan that would help boost sales taxes, but cost you more when buying items online.
Mobile's Finance Director Barbara Malkove said the sales taxes collected when you buy items at businesses were down more than $550,000 in November 2012 compared to the year before.
This was despite the city's new one cent sales increase going into effect November 1.
However, Mayor Jones said he thinks December collection figures will provide a more accurate reading on the sales tax revenues.
He said the November report was "more of a summary, or a sampling, than it is accurate."
"We just started collecting in November, and there are so many variables in that," he said. "I'm not sure that we collected all the sales taxes in November, because some people were just transitioning back to the one cent, and they had to change their computers, and get their stores prepared to do that."
PART OF THE PROBLEM
The mayor said many people are buying online, where sales taxes aren't collected.
He thinks the time has come for Congress to pass a law mandating the collection of the taxes.
"There is one (bill) getting ready to be introduced in the Senate at this time, and its bi-partisan, for that purpose, and it represents billions of dollars in sales taxes, probably several hundred million in the state of Alabama," he said. "I don't have the exact figure, but I know it's something like $23 billion nationally. That being the case, that's what's going to solve this issue with Internet sales."
The bill Mayor Jones was talking about is Senate Bill 1832 , called The Marketplace Fairness Act.
It would grant states the authority to compel online and catalog retailers, no matter where they are located, to collect sales tax at the time of a transaction.
Mobile City Council Member Gina Gregory is keeping a close eye on this bill.
"We can't compete. They're not charging sales tax, but our local bricks and mortar retailers do, and, sometimes, the products that you buy are the same," Gregory said. "Yet, if you buy it from a retailer here in the city of Mobile, you're paying a sales tax. If you buy it online, you're not paying any sales tax, and that's just unfair."
WHERE DOES SALES TAX MONEY GO?
Gregory said sales tax money goes to provide services that benefit all of us.
"Municipalities like the city of Mobile rely on sales taxes for services and salaries and things we all expect to have here in the city, so, it's a big problem. A big problem we've been dealing with for years," she said.
OTHER MAYORS SUPPORT THE BILL
Mayor Jones said he hasn't talked to Alabama's Congressional delegation about the bill, but that the nation's mayors know how important it is.
"The U.S. Conference of Mayors went on record supporting this legislation," he told FOX10.
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