Scottsdale, AZ—The Centurion Scottsdale Show kicked off its 2018 edition January 28 with a retailer breakfast discussion about important legislative issues facing jewelers and all brick and mortar retailers: competition from the Internet, sales tax fairness, LIFO accounting rules, and more issues that directly impact retailers’ bottom lines.
The session, sponsored by Jewelers Mutual Insurance, featured presentations from David Bonaparte, CEO of Jewelers of America, and Major General Tim Haake, an attorney Haake Fetzer in Washington, DC, who has served as JA’s longtime lobbyist on Capitol Hill.
Directly impacting jewelers’ bottom lines, Jewelers of America’s political action committee (JAPAC) recently won two major victories after working to ensure that BAT (border adjustment tax) was eliminated and LIFO accounting rules preserved in the recently passed tax reform bill. Other key provisions JAPAC lobbied for in the bill were:
JAPAC also offers an annual opportunity for jeweler members to fly into Washington, DC to visit with members of Congress and discuss the issues of concern to them.
Don't miss The Centurion's exclusive accompanying video interview with Bonaparte and Haake. Click here or on the image below to watch:
Following Bonaparte’s and Haake’s presentation, three retailers that have attended previous “fly ins” took the stage to share their experiences. Jenny Caro of Jewelry By Design, Woodbridge, VA, Ronda Daily of Bremer Jewelers in Peoria, IL, and Brian Reid Alter of Alter’s Gem Jewelry in Beaumont, TX, each took turns describing their experiences. (Image at top of page: Caro, Daily, and Alter were part of the delegation that went to Washington in June 2017.)
“You go to Washington and you find there are good Democrats and good Republicans, and people you don’t like on both sides. But it’s really important to get involved,” urged Caro.
Daily added, “When Jenny roped me into JA and JPAC and going to Washington, it turned out to be fun. You really do make a difference when you go. It’s been a great opportunity for me to understand the workings of our government, tax fairness, LIFO, and all that we’ve been working on.”
Alter, the “numbers guy” addressed some of the key financial issues. “The biggest issue we work on every year is sales tax fairness. It got through the Senate twice, and the holdup has been the House. But the biggest person against it is retiring.
“Most of us enjoyed a good 2017. My concern is complacency on this issue. We have to finish the game. As good a year as we had, online had a better year. Amazon Prime shipped five billion packages.”
12,000 stores closed across the country last year. It’s not just in the jewelry industry, and it’s not just weak businesses, he said.
“I have a friend with a $5 million store in Texas, and he’s just done. He’s tired of fighting [the Internet],” said Alter. “Margin is our own issue but sales tax fairness is a big issue. How much money is leaving your state because Internet retailers don’t have to pay sales tax? How many teaching jobs, road construction, and a lot of other things could be saved if that money came into the state?
“I don’t mind competing with the Internet, but if we have to collect it [sales tax], they have to collect it. The big guys like Blue Nile and eBay are fighting it. I encourage you to get involved,” he finished.