Lowe’s and the Two Kinds of Fairness

Lowe’s wants an Internet sales tax. For fairness.

“We lose sales every day — not just on Black Friday — but any time we compete or try to compete on an unfair playing field,” said Scott Mason, vice president of government affairs for Lowe’s, the home improvement chain, which has Black Friday specials on everything from cordless drills to vacuums to artificial Christmas trees. Lowes.com collects sales tax from shoppers in every state that has a sales tax and where the company operates stores and warehouses. “It’s absolutely a position of disadvantage.”

Meanwhile, Lowe’s continues to build in developments within Tax-Increment Financing Districts, where the sales tax is often higher than surrounding areas.

  • Lowe’s proposed for northwest

    A Lowe’s home improvement store apparently will be the centerpiece of a development described in the city’s first official application to create a Tax Increment Financing district here.

  • Selectman denounces Lowe’s holdup

    Town Manager Michael Chammings said he was disappointed with the decision by Lowe’s, after the efforts of Norway and Oxford to support the project. He referenced the approval by Oxford residents of a tax increment financing district for Lowe’s, which aimed to use captured revenue to improve municipal water service to the northern part of the town.

  • Tulsa Hills adds major retailers to Southwest market of Tulsa County

    Under a tax increment district financing plan, about $16.6 million of the property tax revenue from the center will be set aside to pay for infrastructure.

    . . . .

    The $105 million shopping center will have several anchor tenants, including Lowe’s, Target and Belk.

  • Green Mount Commons in Belleville, Illinois, which has caused the city to be sued over and over again:

    Taken as a group, these ordinances establish a tax increment financing district and a business district to enable a St. Louis development company to develop a Wal-Mart store, a Lowe’s home improvement center, a housing development, and a strip center.

Now, it seems to me that Lowe’s wants its fairness both ways: It wants fair treatment in special set-asides and special tax rates in places where it directly benefits from the unlevel playing field, where tax rates differ based on location within a municipality and where tax benefits accrue to those extra equal businesses helped by the local governments often at the expense of smaller businesses in the area who didn’t get helping hands in their development and who get additional competition from the government-assisted larger stores. Some developments get them, and it’s just not fair if the ones with the Lowe’s in them don’t get them, too.

Lowe’s also wants the Internet fairness of making sure that its algorithms don’t have to calculate myriad tax rates whose myriad actually proliferates when Lowe’s wants to be part of a new development.

In other words, fairness and “level playing field” have multiple meanings depending upon how they impact the corporation. Who has, apparently, an executive in charge of helping to manipulate legislation across the country to the company’s benefit.

Lowe’s isn’t the only retailer playing this game, by the way.

(Link to the Politico piece seen on Hot Air.)

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2 thoughts on “Lowe’s and the Two Kinds of Fairness

  1. The larger the business, the less free they want the markets.

    Strangely, though, it’s not business’s fault exclusively. If they could not sway legislators and regulators, they would not try.

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