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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Cyber Monday was expected to draw record sales this year. Shoppers were on track to spend about $1.5 million, a 20 percent increase over last year.

It wasn't hard finding cyber shoppers in downtown New Orleans, ready to burn up their keyboards searching for deals.

'After 5 of course, after business hours,' said Pat Patrick. 'I'm going to try and get all of Christmas shopping done today.'

'I did some earlier today,' said Emily Bennett. 'I bought a Kindle off Amazon. It was $30 dollars off.'

'I do indeed plan to do some cyber-shopping, this evening, last-minute gifts, that sort of thing,' said Daphne Steele.

The event is growing in popularity in part because many online retailers do not have to collect sales tax.

While consumers enjoy the discount, Main Street retailers are suffering.

Kent Alimia said that puts his A1 Appliance stores at a competitive disadvantage.

'The pricing is all going to be about the same on the product, but buying online without the tax, it makes it a little rougher on us,' said Alimia. 'The states are losing and the local businesses are losing.'

Congress is now considering the 'Marketplace Fairness Act.' It would give states the option to collect sales taxes from out-of-state sellers.

By law, buyers in Louisiana are already supposed to pay taxes on their online purchases at the end of the year.

State Treasurer John Kennedy said the only way to close the tax loophole and get consumers to pay the tax is for Congress to take action.

'Under Louisiana law if you buy from out of state and they don't collect the sales tax, you're supposed to pay on your own voluntarily,' said Kennedy. 'The problem is I've never met anybody who paid it, so basically we got a law that says the tax is owed, but nobody pays it and the Department of Revenue doesn't try to collect it.'

Kennedy said under the current system, it is difficult for the state to collect cyber-sales tax dollars.

'If you think about it, it's not economical for them to collect it because they'd be hiring auditors to go out and collect $20 bucks or $30 bucks or $10 bucks, so practically that's the problem.'

Back at A1 Appliance, Alimia said he tries to compete with the online retailers by occasionally having a tax-free sale. But, he says that's an added cost that his business has to bare.

'The margins are so thin that it's hard to absorb that, but sometimes we feel need to just to get the business.'

Cyber-shoppers we talked with have mixed feelings about paying sales tax online.

'I like not having to pay the sales tax,' said Bennett. 'I usually do it so I don't have to pay the sales tax.'

'The taxes, at the end of the day you do save a little bit,' said Steele. 'That's definitely an advantage.'

'Anything that lowers my taxes I'm for, but by the same token we have to have a fiscal policy that takes care of the local businesses, too,' said Patrick.

The Marketplace Fairness Act would simply state tax codes to make it easier for online businesses to collect sales tax.

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