Our View Finally (maybe) an actual tax break
With all these grandiose plans being made to make West Memphis better by spending millions of dollars, mostly coming from the plentiful bounty being generated by Southland Casino Racing, the suggestion has been brought up why not use some of this newfound revenue to help local retailers and shoppers by reducing the city’s excessive 10.75% sales tax.
While many West Memphians are overjoyed about Mayor Marco McClendon’s plans to make major changes to the Tilden Rodgers Sports Complex along with the many other neighborhood parks, the construction of two new fire stations and police substation as well as a new district court building let’s give some thought to cutting back on the sales tax which would benefit every local retailer, now unfairly competing with neighboring Tennessee, Memphis, Shelby County and particularly Southaven businesses.
With all the effort also being placed on doing a complete facelift along East Broadway in an attempt to revitalize this once thriving business district what better time than now to seriously consider lowing the local sales tax as a great incentive to attract new and potential businesses?
Such a high local sales tax, said to be among the highest in the state, just below Marion’s 11.25%, makes it very difficult for retailers, such as Gary Masner, Masner’s Furniture on East Broadway, to compete with similar furniture stores in Southaven where the sales tax is just a mere 7%. This, we’re told is the total of state, county and city sales tax rates. The Mississippi sales tax rate is also just 7% and the Desoto County sales tax rate is, get this, 0%.
Masner, a long time proponent of a reduction in the local sales tax rate, has repeatedly pointed out that the difference in the sales tax in West Memphis compared with Southaven means it is to the advantage of shoppers of large ticket items to show outside West Memphis. The savings in sales taxes alone represents a large amount of savings for the customer.
Let’s take a purchase of $2,000 on a particular piece of furniture. The buyer would have to add an additional $235 in taxes in order to do business with Masner’s Furniture. Now, on the other hand, this same patron purchases a $2,000 piece of furniture in one of the furniture stores in Southaven. The sales tax rate there would represent $140 for the same $2,000 amount. That is almost $100 savings for the consumer.
As Masner also pointed out, lowering the tax rate will not only help West Memphians save a little hard earned money when shopping locally but also greatly benefit the businesses in that the lower tax rate will bring back shoppers who would have otherwise gone to Mississippi to do their purchases.
The timing for this couldn’t have come at a better time as city leaders are completing their long list of major improvements to attract newcomers as well as new businesses.
We certainly hope that Mayor McClendon seriously considers this financial benefit that will impact businesses’ such as Masner’s as well as the citizens of West Memphis.