February 16, 2009

U. S. sales tax revenues decline

A decline in U.S. spending has slammed sales taxes around the country, officials said.

About half of St. Louis' $14 million in revenue came from sales taxes in 2008, a revenue stream that dropped 10 percent last year, USA Today reported Monday.

At the local Crestwood Court mall, half the retail spaces are now empty, the newspaper said.

Most people would agree we were too heavily reliant on sales taxes for some time. But the city succeeded for a long time with those sales taxes, said city administrator Jim Eckrich.

Some say the U.S. has too many stores. About 200 million square feet of retail space has been built each year since 2004.

J.C. Penney Chief Executive Officer Mike Ullman, chairman of the National Retail Federation, said the retail landscape is 100 million square feet larger than it needs to be.

Municipal sales taxes average about 6 percent, making a mall averaging $300 million in annual sales a cash cow for local budgets.

However, the150,000 stores expected to close this year will put a crunch on many budgets, the newspaper said.