Retailers up the pressure on online sales tax

Retail groups are intensifying their efforts to pass online sales tax legislation over the next six weeks, warning businesses that this could be “the last chance” for the measure.


David French of the National Retail Federation told members in a new blog post to increase their outreach to lawmakers, noting that the Senate’s passing of the Marketplace Fairness Act would all be for naught if a measure doesn’t get to President Obama’s desk by the end of the year.

“If the Marketplace Fairness Act — or equivalent language — doesn’t become law by the time the new session of Congress begins in January, the legislation will die and the process will have to start all over again. And with the change in Senate control after this month’s elections, passing the measure there again is far from certain,” French wrote.

“We've waited too long to get here to let this opportunity slip away,” French added, noting that the Senate’s approval of the online sales tax legislation was the first time the bill had made it through a congressional chamber after a dozen years of lobbying.

Backers of the Marketplace Fairness Act saw their lobbying challenge become more difficult in recent weeks, after House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLongtime House parliamentarian to step down Five things we learned from this year's primaries Bad blood between Pelosi, Meadows complicates coronavirus talks MORE (R-Ohio) vowed not to allow the online sales tax bill move forward. Prominent conservatives like Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzVideo of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Democrat on Graham video urging people to 'use my words against me': 'Done' MORE (R-Texas) also pushed this week to ensure that the measure, which supporters want to pair with an extension of a law barring taxes on Internet access, doesn’t get enacted in the current lame-duck session.

To combat that, advocates are sponsoring a fly-in featuring retailers in early December, as well as an advertising campaign. Retail groups are also emphasizing that the Marketplace Fairness Act has its fair share of GOP supporters, including governors and state lawmakers who believe the legislation will help their local fiscal situation.

Under the bill, states could start collecting sales tax revenue from out-of-of state retailers. Now, states can only collect from businesses that have a physical presence within the state.