Boehner says he 'probably' can't support online sales tax bill

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that he likely couldn’t support the online sales tax bill that the Senate passed this week, underscoring the challenge that supporters face in getting the measure through the lower chamber.

Boehner told Bloomberg Television that the Marketplace Fairness Act, which got 69 votes in the Senate on Monday, would heap a “big burden on some very small businesses.”

"I just think that moving this bill where you have 50 different sales tax codes — it is a mess out there,” Boehner said. “You are going to make it much more difficult for online businesses to be able to comply with it.”

The Speaker, in his most dismissive comments yet on the bill, also said “probably not” when specifically asked if he could support it, and noted once more that the bill would have to go through the House Judiciary Committee, where Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has outlined an extensive list of concerns about the bill.

ADVERTISEMENT
Proponents of the online sales tax bill – including big box stores like Wal-Mart, the online giant Amazon and state governments – have said that they had momentum following the lopsided Senate vote, and that a bill could even get to President Obama’s desk this year.

The Marketplace Fairness Act, those groups say, would merely close a loophole exploited by online businesses, and could give states billions in needed extra revenue each year.

The bill would allow states to collect sales tax revenue whenever a resident made an online purchase from a U.S. retailer. Currently, states can only collect from businesses that have a physical location in that state.

But opponents of the group – including prominent small government organizations like Heritage Action and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform – have long said that the measure would have a tougher time in the House. Those groups say the bill would open up online retailers to audits and should be viewed as a tax increase on consumers.

Customers are generally supposed to report taxes from online purchases to their states, but rarely do.