This Week in Tech: Senate set to approve Internet sales tax

ADVERTISEMENT
Under current law, states can only collect sales taxes from retailers that have a physical presence in their state. People who order items online from another state are supposed to declare the purchases on their tax forms, but few do.

The Marketplace Fairness Act would empower states to tax out-of-state, online retailers, but it would exempt small businesses that earn less than $1 million annually. Supporters argue it would close an unfair loophole that benefits Internet giants over brick-and-mortar stores.

But critics, including a host of anti-tax groups, worry that it would be complicated to enforce and stifle online commerce.

On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold an hearing on immigration that will examine the role foreign workers play in the tech industry. The hearing will look at the country's current immigration laws and their impact on economic growth, according to a notice from the committee.

The hearing will be the first time that the Senate Commerce Committee has waded into the immigration debate this year. Witnesses have yet to be announced.

The main focus for observers of the immigration debate is the Senate Judiciary Committee's markup on Thursday of the Gang of Eight's comprehensive immigration reform bill. The deadline for amendments to be filed is Tuesday, so keep an eye out for proposed changes.

The Senate Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism will hold a hearing on Wednesday morning to examine law enforcement and private sector responses to cyber threats.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), the chairman of the crime and terrorism subpanel, said earlier this year that he wanted to hold a hearing to examine resources the Justice Department has in place to prosecute the cyber theft of American intellectual property, as well as for taking action against botnets.

At an oversight hearing on the Justice Department earlier this year, Whitehouse said he couldn't recall a "single" prosecution case against hackers that stole an American company's intellectual property through a cyberattack.

"I think anybody who has been in the trenches understands how immensely complicated and resource-intensive these cases are," he said.

John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and NBCUniversal General Counsel Rick Cotton will be participating in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's inaugural "IP Champions Conference" on Thursday.

The event will recognize individuals who have made contributions to protecting intellectual property and discuss the need for more "robust" enforcement policy worldwide, according to the Chamber.

More in Overnight Technology

OVERNIGHT TECH: FCC eyes fee hike for school Internet program

Read more »