Finance

Boehner vows to block online sales tax bill

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed on Monday to block a measure giving states broader power to tax online sales.

{mosads}Retail groups and a bipartisan set of lawmakers believe that the measure could finally make it through Congress in the upcoming lame-duck session, and are seeking to attach the proposal to an extension of a law barring taxes on Internet access.

But according to a spokesman, Boehner won’t allow that to happen.

“The Speaker has made clear in the past he has significant concerns about the bill, and it won’t move forward this year. The Judiciary Committee continues to examine the measure and the broader issue,” the spokesman, Kevin Smith, said in a statement.

“In the meantime, the House and Senate should work together to extend the moratorium on Internet taxation without further delay.”

Boehner’s comments set up a showdown with supporters of the Marketplace Fairness Act, who have promised not to allow an extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act to pass without their online sales tax measure.

Supporters have pointed to the lame-duck session because Boehner and the incoming Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have made it plain that they want a productive lame-duck session to clear the decks for an all-GOP Congress in 2015.

“Retailers are adamant that these issues be solved simultaneously this year, and we still believe both can be addressed in the remaining weeks of session,” said Jason Brewer, a spokesman for the Retail Industry Leaders Association. “Most Americans won’t be taking the next two months off, and neither should Congress.”

The Marketplace Fairness Act would allow states to collect sales taxes on purchases their residents make from out-of-state retailers. Currently, states can only collect sales taxes from businesses that have a physical location within their borders.

The measure has the backing of heavyweights from both parties – like Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) – and easily cleared the Senate last year, with the support of most Democrats and 21 Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also has vowed to do whatever it takes to enact the measure before the end of the year.

“Our goal hasn’t changed and the bipartisan group of senators and the coalition will continue to work to find a path forward for it,” said Ben Marter, a Durbin spokesman.

But House Republicans never moved to take up the Senate bill, after Boehner made it clear in May 2013 that he opposed the measure in its current form. McConnell also voted against the bill last year, as did GOP senators popular with 2016 ambitions like Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.).

Conservative groups like Heritage Action and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform have also worked against the bill.

Phil Bond of the WE R HERE coalition, another opponent of the online sales tax bill, thanked Boehner’s decision “to effectively kill the bill during the lame duck session.”

“We encourage both chambers to act swiftly to pass the Internet Tax Freedom Act to protect the public from an unwanted tax as the holidays arrive,” Bond said.

Roll Call first reported Boehner’s commitment on Monday to block the online sales tax bill. 

Tags Boehner Dick Durbin Harry Reid John Boehner Lamar Alexander Marco Rubio Mitch McConnell Rand Paul Ted Cruz
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