County Administrator Amy White-Tanabe reviewed the sales tax report for the month of April at Monday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting. Tanabe reported an increase in sales tax revenue of $22,854.18 for April, 2019, compared to April of last year, a continuation of the recent trend of increased sales tax revenue in recent months.
Otero County collected $163,970.82 in total for the month of April this year, well above 2018’s April sales tax revenue of $141,116.64.
Commissioner Keith Goodwin said most of the increase of nearly $23,000 can be contributed to the county’s newfound ability to collect local sales taxes from residents’ online purchases.
HB 19-1240, the Sales and Use Tax Administration bill, proposed that sales taxes from online sales transactions would be taxed based on the buyer’s address, allowing local governments to collect sales tax revenue that previously would have went to jurisdictions online retailers were based in or had in common with their buyers.
The bill was signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis on May 23 and portions of it took effect on June 1. Other sections of the bill won't take effect until Oct. 1.
“That’s a nice little shot in the arm,” said Goodwin about April’s sales tax report. “Shows you the amount of money, taxes that we were losing previously with internet sales.
“Those dollars are critical for the operations of a government agency to provide goods and services for the constituents. When it’s purchased out of the area, in the past, we’ve lost the sales tax there.”
Goodwin had mixed feelings about the report. He wasn’t dissatisfied with the county’s earnings, but he lamented at the thought of how much extra revenue the county could have been making had similar legislation been enacted years ago.
Local suppliers of goods purchase their stock by the box loads, said Goodwin, while online retailers purchase their supplies “out the train load.”
Goodwin said it’s hard to capture an accurate economy of scale when online sales are hard to gauge.
“Another way I look at it, when you buy something form Pueblo and you think, ‘Look at all the stuff that we’ve built with our money from our county in their county,’” said Commissioner John Hostetler.
Goodwin said in contrast to Otero County’s April sales tax revenue, La Junta indicated a zero percent growth rate in its own sales tax revenue report.