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 AyotteJuan Williams: McConnell won big by blocking Obama Battle brews over Trump’s foreign policy Battle for the Senate: Top of ticket dominates 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 DurbinThis week: Government funding deadline looms Lawmakers eye early exit from Washington Senators crafting bill to limit deportations under Trump 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 EnziRepublicans want to grease tracks for Trump President-elect Trump: Please drain the student loan swamp Liz Cheney wins Wyoming House seat MORE (R-Wyo.) and Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderThis week: Government funding deadline looms Key Republicans ask Trump to keep on NIH director McConnell tees up medical cures bill 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 RockefellerLobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner Overnight Tech: Senate panel to vote on Dem 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 BoozmanDeficits could stand in the way of Trump's agenda The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate SENATE: Republicans defy odds to keep majority 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.