Brick-and-mortar businesses have long grumbled that a disparity in online sales tax favors e-retailers and punishes local merchants. Now, some Buckeye State businesses are doing something about it.

The Ohio Main Street Leadership Council (OMSLC), recently launched by the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, is stumping for the Main Street Fairness Act and the Marketplace Equity Act. The legislation, making its way through Congress, would require online retailers to collect sales tax at the point of sale. Similar councils have sprung up in other states. Eight business leaders from around the state have signed on to lead Ohio’s group.

“When we sell retail products to the public, society has mandated sales tax so that we can have our money for our state to pay for police and libraries, etc.,” says Jack Seibert, an OMSLC member and president of Jack Seibert Goldsmith & Jeweler in Upper Arlington. “We feel the advantage for the Internet folks, like Amazon, is unfair and we don’t have a level playing field.”

Requiring tax parity would create 11,000 direct retail jobs, according to a study from the University of Cincinnati, which also calculated the state missed out on more than $200 million last year from untaxed online orders.

“The impact those jobs have on the local community—income tax, property tax, contributions to church or charity—are an indirect benefit of having brick-and-mortar retailers,” says Gordon Gough, another OMSLC member and executive vice president of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.

Reprinted from the March 2012 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.