DeMint accuses Amazon of lobbying for online tax to cripple competitors

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"Now that you're going to have to pay taxes in all of theses states where you have a physical presence, you want to come back and tax these other companies that don't," DeMint said at hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president for global public policy, said the company supports the bill to establish a single national framework for collecting sales taxes, instead of a patchwork of state laws.

He argued that Amazon has long supported a national solution for taxing online purchases.

DeMint and Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteTen rumored Trump Cabinet picks who didn't get a job Sasse, Perdue join Armed Services Committee Avid pilot among GOP senators joining Transportation committee MORE (R-N.H.) criticized the bill, which is called the Marketplace Fairness Act, warning it would burden businesses by forcing them to comply with varying tax systems. But most of the senators at Wednesday's hearing, including the Republicans, said the bill is necessary to level the playing field between online and offline businesses. 

“Small businesses in my home state of Illinois don’t want a handout from Washington," said Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinJustice requires higher standard than Sessions Warren burns Mnuchin over failure to disclose assets Trump Treasury pick to defend foreclosure record MORE (D-Ill.), the author of the legislation. "They don’t want special treatment. All they want is a level playing field."

Sens. Mike EnziMike EnziDem senator: DeVos ‘sends shivers down the spine’ Trump Education pick: States should decide on allowing guns in schools Schumer puts GOP on notice over ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Wyo.) and Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderTrump, GOP set to battle on spending cuts Senate committee vote on DeVos postponed Cheney calls for DeVos to be confirmed ‘promptly’ MORE (R-Tenn.), the lead Republican sponsors of the bill, argued it is about empowering states to make their decisions about what to tax.

Alexander predicted that many states will use the additional revenue from online purchases to lower overall tax rates.

Durbin, Enzi and Alexander do not serve on the Commerce Committee, but appeared as witnesses at the hearing.

Lawmakers argued that because people are already supposed to declare their online purchases, the bill does not impose new taxes.

"This debate is not about imposing new taxes," Committee Chairman Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerObama to preserve torture report in presidential papers Lobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner MORE (D-W.Va.) said. "Instead, it’s just allowing states to collect taxes that are currently owed under existing law, but are being systematically avoided."

Sen. John BoozmanJohn BoozmanFive takeaways from Pruitt's EPA hearing Senators inviting Trump to speak at National Prayer Breakfast One bipartisan priority: Broadband Internet access infrastructure MORE (R-Ark.) also expressed support for the legislation, arguing that small retailers are unable to compete with websites that sell their products tax-free.