Sunday, September 3, 2006

Cabela, L.L. Bean and Maine Taxes

The brouhaha about whether Cabela's Inc. should be made to collect sales tax on internet or phone purchases from Maine residents if they open a retail store in Scarborough, and their charge that competitor L.L. Bean has gotten a special business equipment tax break that no other firm would currently be eligible for, seems to have become dragged down into a morass of technicalities and political posturing. The opportunity here for Mainers to see this episode as symptomatic of the larger problems facing Maine's economy is slipping us by, as folks choose sides pro or anti Cabela's.

The underlying problem here is that Maine's taxes are just too high for everyone, individuals and businesses, period. When a company from outside of Maine says it will or won't open a retail store in our state based on whether its internet and phone orders would be subject to Maine sales tax collection requirements, you know the requirement is too burdensome. When a Maine company with a long history of profitability and a solid name brand feels the need to have a tax break crafted for it -- a break for which no other company in the state is eligible! -- you know the overall tax burden on businesses is too high.

All Mainers need to look at this controversy and demand that our political leaders make such political standoffs unnecessary. Just lower the tax burden on us all, across the board, so no firm feels the need to look for special favors from the state.



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