When public policy works to disperse economic power, small businesses and working people both benefit. Plus, local businesses have been fighting for sales tax fairness for 20-plus years — and now, the issue's back at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Hometown Advantage Bulletin
Local Businesses Have Been Fighting for Sales Tax Fairness for 20 Years. Now, the Issue's Back at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Olivia LaVecchia  |  April 3, 2018

Photo: U.S. Supreme Court.For years, Main Street businesses have found themselves wrestling with an unfair disadvantage: While they're required to collect sales tax on purchases, many of their online competitors are not.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could finally give states the authority to require online retailers to collect sales tax. In this article, we explain the issue and what's at stake for local governments and independent businesses.  Continue Reading
Why Small Businesses Matter for Workers
Stacy Mitchell  |  April 18, 2018

Photo: Logan Hardware.A recent article in Jacobin, an influential magazine, argued that "small business promotion is mostly a bad idea" — because, the piece said, small businesses are bad for workers. The piece is wrong on both counts, and so much so that we took the time to write a response to it.

To begin with, there's pay. Across all industries, low- and middle-income workers earn about the same wage whether they work at a small business or a large one. But within specific industries, small businesses lead large ones in the wages they pay their workers. In retail, for instance — one of the largest industries — people who work for businesses with fewer than 100 employees earn about 30 percent more per year than those working at businesses that have more than 10,000 employees.

There's also a deeper way in which the interests of small businesses and working people are aligned. In recent decades, public policy has been organized to serve the ambitions of the largest corporations. This has undermined small businesses — and it's also been bad for workers. In fact, we argue in this piece, both small businesses and working people benefit when public policy works to disperse economic power.  Continue Reading
Dive Deep on Internet Sales Tax Fairness with Our Resource Page
Olivia LaVecchia  |  April 9, 2018

Photo: Online shopping.With Amazon in more skirmishes with states over sales tax — this time with regard to third-party sales on its platform — and the issue back before the U.S. Supreme Court, we've updated our resource page on the issue. In it, we dive deep into why this policy matters, where it came from, and how the fight to require online retailers to collect sales tax is currently being waged on three fronts:
  • States arguing for a new "economic nexus" standard for online retailers in a case before the Supreme Court;
  • States requiring platforms like Amazon to collect sales tax on goods sold by third-party merchants through their site; and
  • Ongoing debate in Congress about national legislation on the issue.
The backgrounder closes with examples of policies that states have passed to address this issue, and includes the actual text of many of the policies.  Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It
  • As independent businesses are grappling with the rising cost of rent in many U.S. cities, a new strategy is catching on: Policies that set-aside space for local businesses in new development. In this recent article, we look at three new programs that show how this tool can work — and offer examples of steps that cities can take to strengthen locally owned businesses.
  • ILSR's Stacy Mitchell is the guest on a recent episode of the podcast This Is Hell, talking competition, platforms, and Amazon. "[Amazon] is not an open market in which people can buy or sell goods freely and of their own accord," Stacy says in the episode, of Amazon's Marketplace. "What you have is a private arena that is controlled by a single player."
  • President Trump recently made a series of alarming attacks on Amazon on Twitter. Meanwhile, however, public policy at the federal, state, and local levels continues to benefit the company. For more background on how Amazon uses government advantages, revisit our op-ed in Vice's Motherboard, "Amazon's Uneven Playing Field."

News Stories We’re Following
  • Independent hardware stores, like the northeast Pennsylvania ones in this article, are finding success through their strengths, from guiding customers through projects to stocking products that are specific to local needs.
  • Tulsa, Okla., passes a "Healthy Neighborhood" ordinance that restricts small-box discount stores like dollar stores from opening in parts of the city, and offers incentives for stores that provide healthy food options.
  • Small, unionized grocery stores, and their communities, are taking hits from Walmart, dollar stores, and private equity owners.
  • Just four months into 2018, big-box retailers are slated to close more than 70 million square feet of retail space this year.
  • Most of the 20 cities that are finalists in Amazon's contest for its second headquarters are keeping their bids secret from their own citizens, finds a new report from Good Jobs First.
  • "As Trump Bashes Amazon, the Government Relies on It," reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • Eight years after the Department of Justice allowed Live Nation and Ticketmaster to merge, it's now reviewing complaints about Live Nation's dominance in the live music business, including concerns that it pressures venues into contracting with its subsidiaries.
  • Open markets matter so that businesses have a fair chance to compete, but they also matter for all Americans, and our "ability to have equal opportunity and an equal say in the future."

Please help us continue our momentum by making a donation today.
Copyright © 2018 Institute for Local Self-Reliance, All rights reserved.