Online sales tax friends, foes note anniversary of Senate bill

Advocates and opponents of a bill to create a national online sales tax system noted Tuesday that it has been a year since the Senate passed its online sales tax bill.

“Without House action, the problem isn’t going to go away, and our Main Streets simply cannot afford to wait any longer,” online sales advocate Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) said in a statement Tuesday.

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One year ago, the Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow states to collect sales tax on residents’ purchases from online retailers located outside the states’ borders.

Currently, each state only has the authority to collect sales tax from online retailers located in that state’s borders.

While advocates for a national online sales tax law say it would level the playing field between online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores, opponents say the Senate bill would subject online retailers to a complex maze of nearly 10,000 state and local tax authorities.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte indicated last year that he wouldn’t take up the Senate bill wholesale, instead laying out a set of principles that any online sales tax bill in front of his committee must meet. 

Goodlatte held a hearing earlier this year examining alternative online sales tax proposals to the Marketplace Fairness Act.

Womack is currently working with House Judiciary Committee member Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on a bill that fits Goodlatte’s principles.

“I am hopeful the House can find the will to close this loophole once and for all,” Womack said.

He pointed to the last twelve months of educating members “on the truth of the legislation.”

“It is not a new tax; it is a commonsense bill that levels the playing field for retailers who cannot compete against an unfair tax advantage,” he said.

On the other side of the issue, the bill’s opponents are claiming victory on the one-year anniversary of the Senate’s passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act.

“One year after Harry Reid and Dick Durbin rammed the Marketplace Fairness Act through the Senate over bipartisan opposition, it’s clear that opponents of this fundamentally flawed bill have momentum on their side,” WE R HERE Executive Director Phil Bond said in a statement.

Bond’s group — Web Enabled Retailers Helping Expand Retailer Employment — represents small retailers from across the country.

Bond pointed to Goodlatte’s principles, calling them “a thoughtful set of reasoned principles, a roadmap for a reasonable legislative outcome that provides a level playing field, rather than the Senate’s anti-small business bill passed at the behest of Walmart and Amazon.”