Editorial - Oklahoma's Unfair Sales Tax Laws

Candor Public Relations, March 25th, 2013

In Oklahoma, small businesses and big retailers both are being short-changed due to an outdated law that’s sending our local dollars out of state.

We’re trying to change that law.

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.

Currently, a law created in 1941 requires all merchants to sell their products for at least 6 percent more than they paid for them. They don’t have a choice. No matter what they want to sell their goods for, this antiquated law removes small businesses’ free decision in the matter and forces them to sell products at a higher rate.

In December 2011, the attorney general confirmed that this out-of-date law bans “Black Friday” and similar sales. This means those great deals you see nationally on Black Friday and other sales days DO NOT APPLY in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma shoppers are paying more for everything than shoppers in other states. How does this make any kind of sense? For instance, if Walmart has a 32-inch TV for sale for $148 on Black Friday, Oklahomans would be forced to pay $210. How is this good for our merchants or our citizens?

This also means that our local dollars are going to other states that can offer deals without restriction. We lose sales tax, we lose local shoppers and small and national businesses in our state lose out even more. We lose the ability to competitively vie for our business.

This new bill by Sen. Holt would do away with this unfair law. To take effect Nov. 1, The Oklahoma Unfair Sales act exempts fuel and pharmaceutical industries, who seem to be the most worried about this bill passing.

While the original law was designed to protect small businesses from unfair pricing advantages held by large chains and prevent a retail giant from selling low-cost goods that put a smaller competitor out of business, the law needs to be modernized.

If I own a small business, I should have the right to decide what to charge. Oklahoma needs to offer business owners the freedom to make a free-market decision that affects their profits and livelihood. We don’t need a law that tells us what we have to charge — I should be able to make that decision and trust my customers to let me know if it’s too much or too little.

I encourage everyone to reach out to their local legislators to support this bill. We should have the freedom to set our own prices. We should have the ability to take advantage of sales that other states enjoy.

Oklahoma businesses should have the right to be competitive in the national market.

We should keep our dollars in Oklahoma and support our local businesses. One small change could mean big savings and big growth in our state. Thank you!