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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 Ann AyotteAudit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years No, the US did not spend million on a gas station in Afghanistan 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 DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinAmerica’s waning commitment to the promise of the First Amendment Senate rejects Trump immigration plan What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes MORE (D-Ill.), the author of the legislation. "They don’t want special treatment. All they want is a level playing field."

Sens. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThe 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework Mulvaney remarks on Trump budget plan spark confusion Overnight Finance: Breaking down Trump's budget | White House finally releases infrastructure plan | Why it faces a tough road ahead | GOP, Dems feud over tax-cut aftermath | Markets rebound MORE (R-Wyo.) and Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Trump health chief backs CDC research on gun violence | GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix | Groups sue over cuts to teen pregnancy program GOP negotiators meet on ObamaCare market fix 30 million people will experience eating disorders — the CDC needs to help 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 RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerOvernight Tech: Trump nominates Dem to FCC | Facebook pulls suspected baseball gunman's pages | Uber board member resigns after sexist comment Trump nominates former FCC Dem for another term Obama to preserve torture report in presidential papers 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 Nichols BoozmanSenate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA Dems go on the attack during EPA chief's hearing Bipartisan group of senators ask Trump to fund broadband in infrastructure plan 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.