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Editorial: Shop local and help your state

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There are all kinds of great reasons for shopping close to home. But did you know that shopping locally may save you a headache when tax time comes?

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That's because when you buy local, you immediately pay any sales taxes due. When you buy online from a business with no physical presence in your home state, you don't pay that tax upfront. But you're supposed to pay when you file your state income tax return.

Few people apparently do, however. Some don't know about it. Others choose not to pay. The later group shops online to "save" money.

Online retailers who don't have to collect state sales taxes, as bricks-and-mortar stores do, have a 5 percent advantage in Wisconsin and 6.875 percent advantage Minnesota. That's enough of an incentive for some shoppers, and that's why Red Wing merchants didn't support adding a local half-cent sales tax and widening the disadvantage.

Failure to pay these sale taxes undermines your state government and thereby reduces aid to cities, counties and schools. This amounts to billions of dollars across the United States. That exact number keeps growing as Internet sales grow, and the loss of those few cents shows up in bigger potholes, aging schools and budget ­deficits.

Shop local when you can. The few additional cents that come with the purchase add up to a better community and state. Besides, you won't have to worry about writing a bigger check April 15 to the state revenue department.

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