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Thread: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

  1. #1
    Mod Law zombie-a-go-go's Avatar
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    Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    MISSOULA, Montana (Reuters) - Montana's state legislature is targeting the big-box megastores that have taken the place of the old Western general store, weighing a special tax to offset welfare costs for low-paid employees of the retailers.

    A bill up for debate Tuesday calls for taxing retailers like Wal-Mart (Research), Target (Research) and Costco (Research) for each store with more than $20 million in sales.

    State Sen. Ken Toole, D-Helena, the bill's sponsor, says Montana residents are tired of subsidizing big-box stores whose low prices -- and high profits -- depend on paying workers low wages.

    "When you don't pay workers, they get public assistance," he said. "Guess who pays for that?"

    The measure would impose a 1 percent tax on stores with more than $20 million in sales. It would rise to 1.5 percent for more than $30 million and 2 percent for sales of more than $40 million.

    The tax would apply to 160 stores, accounting for about half the state's total retail activity, and funnel about $20 million a year to state coffers, Toole said.

    A state Senate tax panel is scheduled to hear the bill, which has irked retailers and prompted Costco to postpone plans to build a larger store in Kalispell, population 13,000, in the northwest corner of the state.

    "We're waiting to see how the legislation shakes out," said Doug Schutt, head of operations for Costco's northern division. "The bill singles out retailers, and we think that's unfair."

    The proposed levy -- in a sparsely populated state with no sales tax -- would apply to stores whose part-time employees make up more than a quarter of the workforce and whose full-time workers earn annual compensation of less than $22,000.

    Foes of the legislation say it discriminates against high-volume merchants. "It's not the government's job to pick winners or losers in a competitive marketplace," said Wal-Mart spokesman Nate Hurst.

    Although Toole didn't know how much the state was paying to provide services to Wal-Mart workers, he pointed to a study released last February by Rep. George Miller that concluded taxpayers pay about $421,000 a year for every Wal-Mart store with 200 employees.

    Wal-Mart's Hurst said the discount chain pumped millions into the Montana economy last year and bought more than $39 million in goods and services from local suppliers.

    University of Montana economist Thomas Power said claims by retailers that they would have to scale back operations or raise prices are exaggerated. "Big-box stores are fighting to get into these markets," he said.

    The proposed tax met mixed reviews from shoppers at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Missoula, a city of about 60,000 in western Montana. "If prices have to go up, so be it," said Mary Karen Caraway. "These stores should be taking responsibility for their own employees."

    But another shopper, Bob Rasmussen, said retail chains should not be singled out: "You can't just go after the big ones when you have small businesses that aren't paying much and don't have benefits."
    "It's easier to give up. I'm not a very vocal player. I lead by example. I take the attitude that I've got to go out and do it. Because of who I am, I've got to give everything I've got to come back."
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    A Little to the Left Redsfaithful's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    "When you don't pay workers, they get public assistance," he said. "Guess who pays for that?"
    Hopefully more people will start realizing this.
    We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
    --Oscar Wilde

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    Does Wal-Mart pay below minimum wage?

    Do they pay less than other retail outlets?

    What about restaurants?

    If an employee feels he/she is underpaid, do they not have the ability to change employers?
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    A Little to the Left Redsfaithful's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool
    If an employee feels he/she is underpaid, do they not have the ability to change employers?
    If an employee feels he/she is underpaid should they have the opportunity to organize and ask for higher wages?

    Do Wal-Marts drive out other retail establishments? Do they need infrastructure to be built when they move into communities (roads, etc.)? Does their money stay in the community or is it shipped to Arkansas?

    Is the community coming out ahead in the deal? Would the community be better off without the Wal-Mart? Is it wrong for politicians to recognize that Wal-Marts are being publically subsidized and tax them at a higher rate because of that?

    I don't think so.
    We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
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    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    I predict that lawmakers who come out in favor of this bill will find themselves facing especially well-funded opposition in the next election, thanks to campaign contributions from Arkansas.
    /r/reds

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    Where's my chair? REDREAD's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    I'm not in favor of most taxes, but this is a great idea.

    The small business owners/employees that Walmart drives out of business are forced to take jobs at places like Walmart. Not to mention all the manufacturers Walmart has assisted in setting up operations overseas to get their "volume pricing".

    Walmart can go ahead and pass the tax along in higher prices. I wouldn't mind one bit. I'd rather the nonessential plastic crap I buy at these places be indirectly taxed.
    Thank you Walt and Bob for going for it in 2010-2014!

    Nov. 13, 2007: One of the greatest days in Reds history: John Allen gets the boot!

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    Member 15fan's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    "The small business owners/employees that Walmart drives out of business are forced to take jobs at places like Walmart."

    Because, of course, The Man is putting a gun to the head of the former small-business owner, and requiring that (s)he stay in the same town and only fill out job applications for job openings only at Wal-Mart.

    If that small business owner thought about doing anything as daring as moving to another town, opening another business, or going to work for another employer other than Wal-Mart, the Gestapo would of course pay him / her a visit during the middle of the night.

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    A Little to the Left Redsfaithful's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    Quote Originally Posted by 15fan
    "The small business owners/employees that Walmart drives out of business are forced to take jobs at places like Walmart."

    Because, of course, The Man is putting a gun to the head of the former small-business owner, and requiring that (s)he stay in the same town and only fill out job applications for job openings only at Wal-Mart.

    If that small business owner thought about doing anything as daring as moving to another town, opening another business, or going to work for another employer other than Wal-Mart, the Gestapo would of course pay him / her a visit during the middle of the night.
    I guess people should just be nomadic, wandering from town to town, following the jobs, running from Wal-Mart.
    We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
    --Oscar Wilde

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    Harry Chiti Fan registerthis's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    Quote Originally Posted by Redsfaithful
    I guess people should just be nomadic, wandering from town to town, following the jobs, running from Wal-Mart.
    Wal-Mart wouldn't bother me so much if they didn't have such an atrocious labor record--sweat shops, firing workers who attempt to unionize, paying ridiculously low salaries.

    Then again, if they didn't have those, they wouldn't be Wal-Mart.

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    Harry Chiti Fan registerthis's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    From MSNBC:
    NEW YORK - In the latest salvo in a long-running battle between Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and organized labor, the company said Wednesday it will close a Canadian store where about 200 workers are near winning the first-ever union contract from the world’s largest retailer.

    Wal-Mart said it was shuttering the store in Jonquiere, Quebec, in response to unreasonable demands from union negotiators, that would make it impossible for the store to sustain its business. The United Food & Commercial Workers Canada last week asked Quebec labor officials to appoint a mediator, saying that negotiations had reached an impasse.

    Wal-Mart said it was shuttering the store in Jonquiere, Quebec, in response to unreasonable demands from union negotiators
    You mean, like normal working hours and a decent wage? The bastards!

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    On the brink wolfboy's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    Quote Originally Posted by 15fan
    "The small business owners/employees that Walmart drives out of business are forced to take jobs at places like Walmart."

    Because, of course, The Man is putting a gun to the head of the former small-business owner, and requiring that (s)he stay in the same town and only fill out job applications for job openings only at Wal-Mart.

    If that small business owner thought about doing anything as daring as moving to another town, opening another business, or going to work for another employer other than Wal-Mart, the Gestapo would of course pay him / her a visit during the middle of the night.
    It's a nice normative argument you're trying to make, but it isn't very practical. A person who was just driven out of business isn't likely to have the resources to just move to another town. Especially not in Montana. Missoula is probably one of the more "booming" economies in the state, and it's nothing more than a small college town. Job openings are likely to be few and far between, and on a meager income someone is likely to take the first thing that's offered. No "Gestapo" involved here, just economic reality.

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    Especially not in Montana. Missoula is probably one of the more "booming" economies in the state, and it's nothing more than a small college town. Job openings are likely to be few and far between, and on a meager income someone is likely to take the first thing that's offered. No "Gestapo" involved here, just economic reality.
    Montana, essentially a ghetto with trees, limited opportunities, limited population, limited revenue all around.

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    Member Red Heeler's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    Why don't the small retailers compete with Wal-Mart against its weaknesses, namely quality, service, and selection, instead of trying to compete on cost?

    The same argument can, and should, be made for American industry. We will never be able to produce goods cheaper than some other parts of the world, so we better work on making things better.

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    Member LawFive's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    I initially thought that this would be a good idea, if only beause the Robin Hood effect would be more significant in a less-populated area like Montama, where there can't be as many opportunities just based on the law of numbers. The more I thought about it, though, it seems like this is would be a step towards a government eliminating the concept of free enterprise. That to me is a major no-no. We're going to violate one of the core values in the country just because some people are inconvienced by it's effects? If you don't like your opportunities, or don't feel that they exist, pick up and move to somewhere they do.
    The seven most magic words in all the land...
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    A Little to the Left Redsfaithful's Avatar
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    Re: Montana may levy tax on Wal-Mart

    Quote Originally Posted by LawFive
    I initially thought that this would be a good idea, if only beause the Robin Hood effect would be more significant in a less-populated area like Montama, where there can't be as many opportunities just based on the law of numbers. The more I thought about it, though, it seems like this is would be a step towards a government eliminating the concept of free enterprise. That to me is a major no-no. We're going to violate one of the core values in the country just because some people are inconvienced by it's effects? If you don't like your opportunities, or don't feel that they exist, pick up and move to somewhere they do.
    Government regulates corporations all the time.
    We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
    --Oscar Wilde


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