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EBay calls in support to fight online sales tax bill

EBay is reaching out to its army of users to stir up opposition to congressional efforts to pass an online sales tax bill during the congressional lame-duck session.

Users on Wednesday received an email from Tod Cohen, the online shopping giant’s vice president, asking them to urge lawmakers to block legislation from reaching the House floor.

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The bill, Cohen told merchants on the website, “fails to protest small businesses like yours.”

“If you oppose this lame-duck Congress passing this last-minute Internet sales tax bill, the time to let your members of Congress know is now,” he added.

Cohen directed users to a website eBay created to urge opposition to the bill, known as the Marketplace Fairness Act. 

The bill would allow states to collect sales taxes on purchases made within their borders from out-of-state stores. Currently, states can only collect taxes if the stores have a brick-and-mortar location in that state.

While major retailers have said the legislation would level the playing field between online and physical stores, companies like eBay have feared that it stacks the deck against small businesses who would have to contend with a dizzying maze of state and local tax codes.

The Marketplace Fairness Act easily passed the Senate last year but has encountered opposition in the House.

Some lawmakers have tried to increase the chances of its passage by pegging it to an expiring law banning state and local governments from establishing taxes on Internet access, which has created a standoff heading into the lame duck.

House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerNetanyahu: 'No question' about Trump's support for Israel The Hill's 12:30 Report Boehner compares Trump to Teddy Roosevelt MORE (R-Ohio) has been a strong critic of the online sales tax bill and has fought to separate it from the legislation banning local taxes on Internet service. Current law banning the local Internet service taxes is set to expire on Dec. 11.

BoehnerJohn BoehnerNetanyahu: 'No question' about Trump's support for Israel The Hill's 12:30 Report Boehner compares Trump to Teddy Roosevelt MORE reaffirmed his opposition to the online sales tax bill this week. 

Still, advocates have pledged to make a concerted push in the few weeks that Congress is in session this year, which could increase pressure on lawmakers.