From the unique vantage point as the head of the Marketplace Fairness Coalition, I’ve been fortunate to work with small business owners from all across America -- and to collaborate with the many industry partners working to support those businesses that are an essential part of our local communities. I've been amazed at their hard work and dedication, and it has been truly inspiring to watch what is the very best of American entrepreneurship.  

It saddens me to note that some of these small business owners who started with us are no longer in business because of Congress’ inability to close the online sales tax loophole that gives remote sellers a government-sponsored tax advantage over local, brick-and-mortar businesses.  However, as more and more business owners learn about our coalition and our continued efforts to modernize our sales tax system, we continue to grow in both numbers and strength.


As well, at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) I have the pleasure of working with shopping center owners from across the country who are constantly seeking to anticipate shoppers’ needs and wants. As online and brick-and-mortar retail converge, it has become apparent that a level playing field is exactly what the 21st century marketplace needs. 

Last week, the more than 3 million businesses that are represented by the Marketplace Fairness Coalition came together to support Reps. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzElijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke MORE (R-Utah) and Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackLawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Rubio asks White House to delay B Pentagon contract over Amazon concerns   New CBO report fuels fight over minimum wage MORE (R-Ark.) in the introduction of the “Remote Transactions Party Act of 2015.” This legislation is the product of an inclusive and exhaustive stakeholder consultation process and it already enjoys strong support from the business community and state and local governments. It should be passed into law. 

A key component of RTPA for ICSC and the Marketplace Fairness Coalition is that the collection of online sales taxes is based on destination sourcing. This essential aspect of the bill will fix the problem of price disparity at the time of sale. It ensures that residents will continue to pay the sales tax to the state in which they reside, rather than to a state they have no affiliation – and representation – with, and which may impose a higher sales tax rate than their own home state. Further, since sales tax is a consumption tax and not a tax on a business, it makes sense that the tax rate should be based on the location of the consumer. RTPA ensures that all sales are treated the same regardless of how the purchase is made -- in a store or online. RTPA also acknowledges the current collection system used by thousands of remote and multi-channel sellers today.  It establishes audit protections for remote sellers and requires states to provide sales tax collection software and integration support to remote sellers free of charge.  

Washington special interest groups such as Heritage Action claim that RTPA “is not good politics” and urge members of Congress to reject anything that is “not in the interest of the party.” But the reality is that is that good policy is good politics. Passing legislation that will fix the online sales tax loophole is the right thing to do for millions of small business owners and those who rely on sales tax revenues to serve our communities, like our first responders.  These extreme outside groups should stop supporting tax evasion and embrace this rare bipartisan effort to enact sound legislation. 

As a coalition, we will continue to fight for free market competition for retailers across the country. They are the economic backbone of almost nearly every community and employ a significant number of people. They deserve the opportunity to compete on a level playing field. For the past decade Congress has held nearly 40 hearings on this issue; this issue has been debated and deliberated; and now Capitol Hill has run out of excuses to act.   

Businesses across America are running out of time. If Congress does not act, the Main Streets and the shopping centers where so many of us grew up will become a thing of the past. We applaud Chaffetz and Womack for their efforts and we will continue to work with them and the broad group of supporters in the House and Senate to do the right thing and finally close the online sales tax loophole in 2015.

Platt is vice president, Federal Operations at the International Council of Shopping Centers. She manages the Marketplace Fairness Coalition, which is comprised of businesses of every size, sector and channel of product distribution, as well as state and national trade associations.