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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
Research
Mar 1, 2016

Does Use Tax Evasion Provide a Competitive Advantage to E-Tailers?

Abstract

Many online retail firms (e-tailers) do not collect sales tax from the majority of their customers, providing these firms a potential competitive advantage over traditional retailers. We examine stock market returns and analysts’ sales forecast revisions surrounding federal legislative proposals, such as the Marketplace Fairness Act, that could erode this alleged competitive advantage for e-tailers. Following events that indicated an increased likelihood of federal sales tax legislation, we find negative abnormal stock returns for e-tail firms relative to traditional retail firms. We also find that analysts forecast a future reduction in sales revenue for e-tailers. These findings imply the existence of a competitive advantage for e-tailers, which advantage will potentially diminish with the enactment of federal sales tax legislation.

Note: Research papers posted on SSRN, including any findings, may differ from the final version chosen for publication in academic journals.


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