Buena Vista keeps rolling in the sales tax revenue, proving that the pandemic hasn’t stopped people from spending their money here. The news may portend a good economic trend for the critical summer season.
The Town reported $310,783 for January, a budget surplus of $39,640, or 14.6 percent over budget. The total includes $65,306 in sales taxes from out-of-area sellers, which continue to grow year over year. In January 2020, before the pandemic took hold, the town collected $263,148, with $44,936 in these out-of-area purchased sales taxes collected for goods delivered to local residents.
The most recent figures represent 18.1 percent growth over January 2020 and 14.6 percent over budget, continuing a trajectory that has been a welcome relief after the pandemic shutdown, which began a little over a year ago.
The Town had projected in its 2021 budget a three percent growth in sales tax revenue over 2020. If January is any indicator, Buena Vista should accomplish that handily.
As vaccines go into arms, the buzz around the county continues to get louder about a very big 2021 summer season. However, public health officials are pointing to plateaus, and in some cases upticks in COVID-19 cases in the state and nationally, indicating that people are letting down their guard too soon when it comes to safety precautions such as masking and avoiding large crowds. Another unknown; the growing impact of COVID variants.
While there was uncertainty – if not a palpable anxiety – about Chaffee County’s summer season as the county sat mostly idle a year ago, Buena Vista and Salida emerged from the dark days of spring to find visitors seeking an escape and who were ready to open their wallets. Meals, accommodations, and local brick and mortar sales generate taxes that go directly into local coffers. All told, Salida collected $7.72 million in 2020 sales tax revenue compared to $6.65 million in 2019.
The Impact of Remote Sales
Buena Vista’s overall sales tax numbers continued to increase during the shutdown, but online/remote sales accounted for a considerably larger piece of the pie than in 2019.
Remote sales relate to businesses that don’t have a physical presence in town. In other words, if you live in Buena Vista and you order something from Home Depot online, that business is required to collect and remit sales taxes for shipments to Buena Vista.
However, if the same shopper drives to the Front Range, buys something at a Home Depot store there, and carries it home, the point of sale is that physical location – Chaffee County and Buena Vista receive nothing for that transaction. So travel patterns and the point of sale (pickup vs. shipping) are key.
The remote seller issue came about in Wayfair v South Dakota, with the Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that sales tax must be remitted to the taxing jurisdiction of the purchaser in the case of online purchases. In response, Colorado passed legislation that said a remote seller was an entity that did not have a “brick and mortar” store in Colorado and was required to remit sales tax to Colorado.