Reid: Possible vote 1 a.m. Friday

The Senate is considering the Marketplace Fairness Act, S. 743, which would empower states to collect taxes on purchases made online by consumers in their states.

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Some senators in states without a sales tax have been blocking progress on the bill, arguing it would burden retailers in their states by forcing them to collect taxes for other state governments.

The 1 a.m. vote on Friday morning would be on a motion to end debate on S. 743, unless an agreement is reached sooner. A vote on final passage would still be necessary.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 75-22 to proceed to the bill and last month the body passed a non-binding budget resolution supporting the Marketplace Fairness language on a 75-24 vote. Those votes suggest supporters of the bill are likely to see it win approval in the Senate before the week is through. Its path through the House, despite the support of many GOP governors, is less clear.

The bill would exempt small businesses that earn less than $1 million annually from out-of-state sales and requires states to provide retailers with software to calculate sales taxes based on a buyer’s zip code.

Under current law, states can only collect sales taxes from retailers that have a physical presence in their state. People who order items online from another state are supposed to declare the purchases on their tax forms, but few do and many are not even aware of the law.

“We are just asking retailers that when you make a sale in that state you collect the sales tax in that state,” Durbin said.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and others who opposed the bill said it should have gone through committee before coming to the Senate floor.

“If the proponents of this bill really want this bill to become law, they would allow it to go through the Senate Finance Committee,” Baucus said Thursday. “But this way — not going through committee, going straight to the floor — makes it less likely this bill will become law.”