Abon Owners Balk at Web Sales Tax

MANSFIELD — Larry and Donna Bence, owners of Abon Cards & Coins Ltd., do 80 percent of their business online, selling items to all 50 states and internationally.

U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi stopped by the 115 Park Avenue West store Tuesday to find out what the Marketplace Fairness Act would mean to small business owners.

The Marketplace Fairness Act would allow states to require businesses to collect sales tax on all puchases over the Internet and remit payment back to the jurisdiction where the customer lives.

Problems cited

Larry Bence said he takes home a 5 percent profit after he pays employees’ salaries, taxes and all overhead costs.

“Fifty different states, 50 different taxes, 50 different tax programs— my wife does Ohio sales tax now and she’s up to her ears in that. We’re talking 50 auditors showing up at my my door one day and I don’t have an attorney on staff like Walmart.”

Tiberi, who said he sees both sides of the issue, noted the proposed legislation would level the playing field “with a brick and mortar building who sells retail with an Internet provider who sells retail.”

“The legislation has a $1 million exemption for online revenue (for small businesses). His (Bence) margin, the money he takes home, is a lot less than the million dollars.”

Donna Bence said less than 5 percent of the company’s sales are in Ohio. The business no longer sells to China, Russia or Brazil, places where the owners have had problems receiving payment for their goods.

About the business

The store has been at its location since 1996, but the couple has been in business since 1969.

The store buys and sells about anything — from coins to motorcylces, old dishes, toys, antiques, jewelry, guitars and more.

“It started with coins,” Larry Bence said while showing the congressman around the spacious store.

The owners buy collections from individuals. Customers bring in unusual items to sell, too. Larry Bence told Tiberi he once bought a bullet from someone dating to the Civil War era.

Bence, who employs fewer than 15 people, said items including coins are sold on eBay, Amazon and Craigslist.

“Here’s something from an old house,” Tiberi said. “They’re just hinges, but they’re over 100 years old.”

The inventory room features a suit of armor, silverware, flashlights and collectible items, including antique Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters and a Pinocchio piggy bank.

Read the article in the Mansfield News Journal here.