Editorial - AARP Supports Tax Law Change

Candor Public Relations, February 25th, 2013

AARP Oklahoma wants to help Americans age 50 and over in Oklahoma live life to the fullest. For our 410,000 members in Oklahoma, we help by working to strengthen Social Security, protect seniors’ access to their doctors, and ensure our Oklahoma members have independence and choice as they age.

Yet, a current law in Oklahoma takes away one of those choices for our members — the choice to pay low prices for goods offered by merchants.

An Oklahoma state law created in 1941 requires all businesses to sell their products for at least 6 percent more than they paid for them. This forces big and small businesses to sell products at a higher rate, which adds to the burden of our members, many of whom are living on fixed incomes.

Sen. David Holt of Oklahoma City introduced a bill called the Oklahoma Unfair Sales Act, Senate Bill 550, which would allow our small businesses and retailers to legally offer deep discounts on their own merchandise if they wish to. As an advocate for the aging, AARP always supports any measure that would help our seniors and members with rising costs.

AARP Members are among the largest voting group in the state with 74% of Oklahoma residents age 50 and older voting in the last election. In addition, our members live frugally and having the choice to pay the best price for items is important.

Of our 400,000-plus members, 27 percent rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income; 54.6 percent rely on Social Security for 50 percent or more of their income. This means that many Oklahomans age 50 and older have to make hard choices between buying groceries, keeping the lights on or paying for their medication this month.

Having a restrictive law that forces seniors to pay at least 6 percent more than seniors in other states is not only unfair, but cruel as well. Any discount to offset the costs for our seniors is vital to keeping them independent, healthy and well.

Businesses in our state see the wisdom in this too. If our members can take a short trip to Texas, Arkansas or Kansas to purchase goods at a lower rate, then our local businesses lose them as customers. AARP Oklahoma supports local businesses’ rights to charge what they wish to. Holiday shopping is especially hard. While “Black Friday” deals are illegal right now in the state of Oklahoma, Sen. Holt’s bill would change that, increasing both revenues for businesses and savings for seniors.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, and we advocate for consumers in the marketplace by supporting value for our members. Supporting Sen. Holt’s bill isn’t just good for Oklahoma’s economy, but for Oklahoma’s citizens as well.