Amazon bolsters lobbying force for sales tax fight

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Under current law, people who buy goods online are supposed to declare those purchases on their tax forms, but few do. As a result, most people do not pay taxes on their online purchases.

Amazon has fought attempts at the state level to implement Internet sales taxes, most notably in California, where the company gathered signatures for a ballot measure to repeal the state's law. 

The company is pushing for a federal Internet tax law, arguing that a single national framework is preferable to a patchwork of state measures. 

The measures would allow states to collect taxes on online purchases

“It’s a win-win resolution — and as analysts have noted, Amazon offers customers the best prices with or without sales tax,” Paul Misener, Amazon vice president of global public policy, said in a news release last month.

Online auction site eBay has taken the opposite side of the issue, arguing that an Internet sales tax will hurt small businesses and destroy jobs. 

Covington & Burlington will be lobbying for Amazon on legislation in the House and Senate, disclosure records show. The lobbying targets will be the Marketplace Equity Act of 2011, introduced by Steve Womack (R-Ark.) in the House and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) in the Senate.

The registration form, which is backdated to Oct. 24, lists former deputy secretary of labor and current firm partner Roderick DeArment as one of the lobbyists on the account.

Others in the firm working for Amazon include William Wichterman, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, Holly Fechner, once policy director to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), and Martin Gold, former floor adviser and counsel to then-Senate majority leader William Frist (R-Tenn.) 

Amazon’s lobbying stable includes a number of other K Street firms, including The Bockorny Group, according to Senate records. 

A request for comment from Covington & Burling was denied on grounds of client confidentiality. 

--Updated on Dec. 12 at 1:01 p.m.