Category: Business News

Regulators bar former Wells Fargo Advisors rep

A former broker with Wells Fargo Advisors in Oak Brook,Illinois, has been barred from the securities industry for allegedly “churning” the accounts of a 93-year-old woman and lying to regulators about it. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority said Matthew Maczko earned commissions of $581,650 and another $84,270 in fees from four accounts worth $3 million, according to the agency’s letter of acceptance, waiver and consent. Maczko had executed over 2,800 transactions in the four accounts from…

Opinion: Sales Taxes Outdated In 21st Century

We order stuff online frequently because it’s convenient to do so, not because we want to save on taxes. Often we’ll order from so we pay the same tax rate we do when we shop at Hampton Village location once per month.  Amazon is the bulk of our online shopping so now we’ll pay 4.225% for Missouri sales tax. Fine.

There are lots of online retailers out there, from 2013:

Using figures from a variety of sources, including Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide for 2013 and data from the U.S. Census Bureau, ReferralCandy determined that there are 102,728 e-commerce retailers in the United States that are generating at least $12,000 per year in revenue. That’s a 13.5 percent increase over last year’s findings, which revealed 90,501 online retailers generating the same amount.

Other findings from the study include:

  • 61,728 online retailers generate at least $25k in revenue (up 12.8 percent from the year before)
  • 38,157 e-commerce merchants generate at least $50k in revenue (up 12.3 percent from the year before)
  • 23,587 online merchants generate at least $100k in revenue (up 13.6% from the previous year) (Forbes)

So over 100k retailers should register with every state to be able to collect and report sales taxes?  I looked at three retailers located on Cherokee Street to see how they handle sales taxes on their online shops — they ship to every state:

Firecracker Press

  • Collects 8.7% Missouri & St. Louis sales tax on orders shipped to Missouri customers.
  • Doesn’t collect sales taxes shipped outside Missouri.

Spoked Bikes & Stuff

  • Doesn’t appear to collect sales taxes on any online order, though a tax line appears in the cart.


  • Doesn’t appear to collect sales taxes on any online order, no sales tax line appeared .

More than half of those who voted in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll support online retailers collecting state sales taxes:

Q:  Agree or disagree: Online retailers, without brick & mortar stores in a state, shouldn’t collect sales taxes in that state.

  • Strongly agree 6 [14.63%]
  • Agree 5 [12.2%]
  • Somewhat agree 1 [2.44%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [2.44%]
  • Somewhat disagree 3 [7.32%]
  • Disagree 9 [21.95%]
  • Strongly disagree 15 [36.59%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [2.44%]

Oh, I bet many thought I was talking only about Amazon. Where is the line drawn in the sand? Is it based on sales shipped to each state? If so, the three small retailers on Cherokee would need to keep track of sales to each state and then begin collecting state sales taxes only when their sales to that state have crossed the threshold?

We pay taxes to receive services from the government(s). How governments collect revenue varies widely, not all collect sales tax:

In 2013, sales and gross receipt taxes nationwide totaled $254.7 billion — a 3.9% increase from the year before — which means Americans spent an average of $806 on sales taxes last year. That’s less than the $309.6 billion, or $979 per American, spent on state income taxes. However, including selective sales taxes, which are levied on goods like gas and cigarettes, Americans actually pay more in sales taxes than they do in state income taxes.

Sales taxes vary widely from state to state. Some states charge no sales tax, while some localities charges as much as 10% when state and local sales taxes are combined. Tennessee, on average, has the highest sales tax at 9.44%.

There are four states with no sales tax: Delaware, Montana, Oregon, and New Hampshire. A fifth, Alaska, has no state-level sales tax but allows municipalities to impose the retail-level tax. As a result, the average sales tax rate in Alaska is 1.69%. 

While 10% of U.S. states impose no sales tax, a much smaller percentage of the population lives in one of these states — only about 2.5%. (Motley Fool)

Let’s not forget the complex sales tax pool in St. Louis County.

I think it may be time to admit sales taxes as a revenue source is outdated by current technology & shopping trends. I’m not suggesting we need lower taxes — but that we need to find a better way to fund local & state government services.

— Steve Patterson


Humana, Aetna terminate merger deal

Humana Inc. and Aetna Inc. have terminated their merger agreement. Louisville-based Humana (NYSE: HUM) issued a news release this morning to announce the “mutual termination” after last month’s federal court ruling that blocked the transaction. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Humana is entitled to a breakup fee of $1 billion, and the company said today that would amount to about $630 million after taxes. Aetna chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini said in a news release that “the current environment…

Prairie Farms’ merger with $325 million Iowa co-op approved

Prairie Farms’ pending merger with Iowa-based Swiss Valley Farms has been approved by members of both dairy cooperatives, the company announced recently. No financial details were disclosed, but the deal, first announced in December, is expected to close March 31. Swiss Valley reported $325 million in annual sales, according to its website. Swiss Valley’s cheese portfolio will help Prairie Farms boost profit after seeing a multi-year decline in its milk sales. Prairie Farms’ 2015 revenue,…

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at one of these romantic restaurants

Total spending for Valentine’s Day is expected to reach $18.2 billion, down from $19.7 billion from last year, according to the National Retail Federation. This year’s survey found that consumers will spend about $3.8 billion on an evening out. So where should you spend those dollars on Tuesday? Scroll through our gallery to see some of the most romantic restaurants in St. Louis, according to TripAdvisor reviews. Also popular this year are gifts of experience, including tickets to a concert…

Outdoor sporting goods retailer with 3 St. Louis stores reportedly near bankruptcy filing

St. Paul, Minnesota-based hunting and outdoor retailer Gander Mountain Co. is preparing to file for bankruptcy, perhaps as soon as this month. That’s according to a report from Reuters, which cites unnamed sources familiar with the matter. Gander Mountain has hired Minneapolis law firm Fredrikson & Byron and New Brighton-based Lighthouse Management Group as a financial advisory firm as it prepares its filing. Gander Mountain officials declined to comment, with a spokesman telling the Star Tribune:…

Finally Visited The National Blues Museum

Last month my husband and I finally visited the National Blues Museum, just a 15 minute walk from our loft. The museum opened in April 2016, but we never got around to visiting until recently. First, we had lunch a Sugarfire Smoke House located in the same building at 6th & Washington.

I’ve been a vegetarian for a quarter century now, but I have no problem eating at BBQ places — as long as they offer something like a portobello sandwich. Smart BBQ places do.

My portobello sandwich at Sugarfire

The museum isn’t large, but it’s well-organized. The displays  and signage is fresh looking.

Entry to the National Blues Museum

Photography isn't allowed inside. but I got one photo

Photography isn’t allowed inside. but I got one photo

There was a concert later in the evening, our tickets would’ve gotten into that as well. I’ll keep that in mind — will plan our next visit, followed by dinner and a blues concert.

Very glad to see the museum completed, I was a sceptic when I first heard the concept.

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: Should Online Retailers Collect State Sales Taxes?

Please vote below

As I’ve previously noted, the retail landscape is always changing — big downtown department stores rarely exist anymore — more & more suburban malls struggle. Last month another change was announced:

The collection of state sales tax in Missouri will begin Feb. 1, Amazon spokeswoman Jill Kerr said in an email to the Post-Dispatch. The state sales tax rate in Missouri is 4.225 percent.

Items sold by Seattle-based and its subsidiaries already are subject to sales tax for merchandise shipped to more than 30 states. Amazon will also begin collecting sales tax on Feb. 1 in Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont, and in Wyoming in March.

Amazon does not yet have facilities in the state of Missouri, and online retailers aren’t required to collect sales tax where they don’t have a physical presence. Amazon charges sales tax in Illinois, where it has multiple distribution facilities, including in Edwardsville. (Post-Dispatch)

Posts on social media showed disagreement on this issue so I thought it would make a great poll question:

The poll will close at 8pm, results & my thoughts on Wednesday.

— Steve Patterson


​Blues minority owner gives $100,000 to sponsor of Scottrade Center upgrades

Blues minority owner David Steward, a co-founder of World Wide Technology, on Thursday gave $100,000 to Aldermanic President Lewis Reed’s campaign committee. Reed, a mayoral candidate, is a sponsor of legislation that would give city money for Scottrade Center upgrades. The legislation cleared a key Board of Aldermen vote Friday. Steward in 2016 donated another $65,000 to Reed’s committee, Missouri Ethics Commission records show. Tom Shepherd, Reed’s chief of staff, said Reed and Steward…

Lawmakers OK city money for Scottrade Center upgrades

City of St. Louis lawmakers on Friday advanced legislation providing tax money for upgrades to Scottrade Center. A procedural vote is still required, but the critical vote came Friday. The plan calls for the city to provide $105 million, guaranteed by general revenue, over some 30 years. A Community Improvement District at the site, implementing a 1 percent tax, would generate $20 million for the deal. St. Louis Blues owners have said they will invest $20 million for the first phase of the project,…