New Stanton, PA – 22 August 2014 – At the request of customers from Puerto Rico, Online Stores has produced the first commercially available 51-star American flag, symbolizing the possible conversion of Puerto Rico from a US Territory into US state. Social media followers of the US Flag Store, the flag division of Online Stores, offered their thanks and support when the flag was announced. American made of weather-resistant nylon in the popular 3’x5’ size, the flag retails for $23.95 and is available for purchase online at the OnlineStores.com using this direct link. http://www.onlinestores.com/51-star-american-flag-3ftx5ft-sewn-nylon.html. The flag is of course not an official US flag yet as it has not been adopted by Congress.
Jorge, a customer of Online Stores, Inc. said, “As a proud American citizen and a native of Puerto Rico, I would like to see my island as the 51st State of the Union. After 519 years first as a US colony and then as a US territory, the people of Puerto Rico demand equality so we can enjoy the full rights, obligations, and responsibility of the continental US. I will be flying your 51-star flag.” Says Cheo, “I currently live in Texas. This flag will be the symbol for the more than 3 million supporters for PR statehood. I will personally fly and display this flag at home as well as pro-statehood meetings.”
Earlier this year, Puerto Rico took a step towards being the 51st state with the introduction of the Puerto Rico Status Resolution Act into the Senate. This bill requires a binding referendum to be held in Puerto Rico asking whether the territory wants to be admitted as a state. The majority have already voted to become a state. (huffingtonpost.com)
Puerto Rico is a self-governing commonwealth in association with the United States, that recognizes the United States President as authority. The US controls their currency, military, law, postal system, and Social Security. (welcome.topuertorico.org).
Online Stores, Inc. is a privately held American e-commerce business and a top 500 retailer, based in New Stanton, PA. The company operates several web sites including Onlinestores.com, EnglishTeaStore.com, ConstructionGear.com, Toysplash.com, United-States-Flag.com and DiscountsafetyGear.com. Online Stores serves over 500,000 customers every year.
In May of 2013, the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) coercing online businesses to collect and forward sales tax to inaccessible states. The bill is now in the hands of the House Judiciary Committee, which is overseen by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA 6th District). Online Stores, Inc. is part of eMainStreet Alliance, which was co-founded by Drex Davis. This alliance is a group of more than 300 online retailers who have united together to help lawmakers understand how detrimental MFA is. A recent letter was sent to the House Judiciary Committee emphasizing the costs of implementation for each organization. At OLS, the estimated cost of compliance will be $360,000 on sales of $30million during the first year.
On the topic of expenses, Gary Shapiro, the Head of the Consumer Electronics Association and supporter of MFA stated that decrypting, gathering, and paying taxes to 10,000 jurisdictions will be “relatively simple.” Online Retailers beg to differ by contrasting that each jurisdiction has its own laws for sales tax to all sorts of goods from food to non-prescription drugs. In addition, within the same zip code different tax rates can apply. Software systems would cost thousands of dollars with expensive updates every time a jurisdiction changes a tax code. Then, each online retailer will have to categorize their products in order to be decipherable by the software, which leaves small business owners to become specialists on every tax law in 46 sales-tax states. This is practically unmanageable.
If the House passes the Marketplace Fairness Act, audits will launch. The MFA bill will increase audits risk by at least 4500%. As many as 46 states are able to audit our business. This is frightening to OLS as well as the other 300+ online retailers. Unfortunately, unlike big retailers like Wal-Mart, small businesses do not have mass accountants and tax attorneys to deal with exorbitant and laborious audits from every state. There are extreme penalties for disobedience to sales tax, including: repossession of personal possessions in order to collect unpaid sales tax owed by our businesses. That means auditors can seize homes and empty personal bank accounts if they conclude that an error has been made. Just ONE mistake could potentially put OLS, as well as other small online businesses, into bankruptcy. Big box retailers see the MFA as a way to put online mom and pop stores out of business – Congress please stand with small businesses and reconsider the MFA bill!
For more information, please view Kevin Hickey’s (CEO of OLS) presentation that was given at the IRCE Convention: IRCE Presentation
May’s office Employee of the Month is Customer Service’s very own Returns Coordinator, Denise Russell! Denise has been with the Online Stores family since October of 2008, coming here right after getting her Associate’s Degree in Accounting at Westmoreland County Community College.
As the Returns Coordinator, Denise is responsible for ensuring that customer returns and exchanges are processed quickly and efficiently, in addition to issuing Merchandise Return Labels (MRLs) by the end of each business day. She was nominated for her flexibility in her department, and her eye for detail. Her communication between other members in her department, and with customers is very commendable. Not to mention her attendance record and positive attitude toward the company are top notch!
Thank you, Denise, for your outstanding work!
Online Stores, Inc. is recognizing Jenni Gongaware from the warehouse for a third time! Jenni has been with the company for eight years this month and is continually putting in the effort to make this company run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
This most recent award status spawns from Jenni’s outstanding reorganization of our United States Flag Store. It was no easy feat. In addition to the reorganization efforts, her management of the eBay replenishment project was completed in an organized and timely manner so that these items could be listed much quicker for our customers to enjoy.
Jenni is quite known around OLS with her cheerful attitude and “get down to work” ethics. She surely commits to her tasks at hand, and motivates those around her to excel, as well.
Thank you, Jenni, and congratulations!
Though many businesses have expressed distaste for the Marketplace Fairness Act to the Senate, Online Stores, Inc. was shocked to hear that the bill was passed on May 6, 2013. Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey voted against the bill and replied to CEO, Kevin Hickey’s personal letter of the bill’s negative impact stating:
May 9, 2013
Thank you for contacting me about the Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 743). I appreciate hearing from you.
As you may know, on May 6, 2013, the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act by a vote of 69-27. Among its provisions, this measure would enable state governments to levy sales taxes regardless of whether the transaction occurs in a physical store or online. I voted against this legislation because I am concerned that many difficult issues relating to this policy have not been addressed. While I understand the concerns that many retailers in my state have raised about online sales, I also have heard the concerns of online retailers who would be subject to the thousands of tax jurisdictions across the country. Moreover, in my view, the legislation’s small business exception of $1 million in revenue is too low and many mom-and-pop retailers could get swept into this costly new tax regime.
Establishing a new online sales tax system across the country is a very significant, complicated proposal. It has the potential to impact almost every American consumer and our entire retail industry. In my opinion, such legislation should first come before the Senate Finance Committee and receive public hearings and careful vetting before being considered by the full Senate. Unfortunately, S. 743 was rushed to the Senate floor without the benefit of such committee hearings or vetting. Also, my colleagues and I were not allowed to offer amendments and try to improve the legislation during Senate debate.
Currently, S. 743 is pending before the House of Representatives for further consideration. As the legislative process continues, please be assured that I value your input and will keep your views in mind should the Senate revisit this matter.
Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.
U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Senator, Bob Casey who voted in favor of this bill, has yet to respond to Online Stores concerns after multiple requests.