White House endorses online sales tax measure

The Supreme Court ruled more than two decades ago that companies only have to collect from in-state customers, but also said that Congress could weigh in on the issue.

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With that in mind, retail groups have long pushed for legislation like the Marketplace Fairness Act, saying it would close a loophole that gives online retailers a leg up on them.

Supporters also say that customers are already supposed to pay taxes on online purchases when they file each year, and that the proposal could give billions in extra revenue to struggling state and local governments. The bill would also exempt small businesses with less than $1 million in out-of-state sales.

“Because these out-of-state companies are able to cut corners and play by a different set of rules, the cities and states lose out on funding for K-12 education, police and fire protection, access to affordable health care, and funding for roads and bridges,” Carney said Monday.

A full three-quarters of the Senate – 75 lawmakers, in all – backed the online sales tax proposal when it was voted on as an amendment to the chamber’s budget framework last month. That vote was nonbinding, but supporters said it showed their proposal was gaining momentum.

The bill is now bypassing the tax-writing Finance Committee on its way to the Senate floor. Several senior Finance members – including the panel’s chairman, Sen. Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusJudge boots Green Party from Montana ballot in boost to Tester Clients’ Cohen ties become PR liability Green Party puts Dem seat at risk in Montana MORE (D-Mont.), and ranking Republican, Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Yale Law School students, alumni denounce Trump Supreme Court pick MORE (Utah) – have expressed opposition to the legislation.

Influential conservative groups like Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and Heritage Action have also slammed the bill, saying it would be an unfair burden to force businesses to play tax collector for states where they don’t benefit from any services. The online retailer eBay is also an opponent.

Still, the issue does not break down cleanly along partisan lines. Several leading GOP governors, who have to balance their budgets each year, have endorsed the proposal, and top Republican sponsors in the Senate are also former state officials.

Top opponents – including Baucus and Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDems launch pressure campaign over migrant families Senators urge DOJ to probe whether Russians posed as Islamic extremist hackers to harass US military families Dems say new emails show Cohen ‘selling access’ to White House MORE (D-Ore.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteFormer Arizona senator to shepherd Supreme Court nominee through confirmation process Shut the back door to America's opioid epidemic Heitkamp ad highlights record as Senate race heats up MORE (R-N.H.) – come from states without a sales tax.