Lawmakers reintroduce online sales tax bills

Lawmakers reintroduce online sales tax bills
© Greg Nash

Bipartisan groups of lawmakers in the House and the Senate on Thursday reintroduced legislation that would make it easier for states to collect sales tax from online purchases.

“Folks shouldn’t have to pay a premium at the register just because they’re supporting a local business,” said Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), a lead sponsor of the House bill. “Unfortunately, the existing inequality means the deck is too often stacked against our Main Street retailers."

As a result of a 1992 Supreme Court decision, states are only allowed to require online retailers to collect sales tax if the businesses have a physical presence in the state. Customers are still required to pay taxes on the purchases, but in reality few do.

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The bills would allow states to require out-of-state online retailers to collect their sales taxes, if the states simplify their tax laws.

An earlier version of the Senate bill passed the chamber in 2013. But efforts on online sales tax legislation have stalled in the past, in part because House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteImmigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute MORE (R-Va.), whose panel has jurisdiction over the matter, is interested in taking a different approach to the issue.

Sponsors of the bills argue that the legislation helps provide a level playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers. They also said state and local budgets are suffering due to their difficulties in collecting sales taxes from internet purchases.

Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThe 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal On The Money: Fed poised to give Trump boost with rate cut | Parties unable to reach deal in Trump tax return lawsuit | New York opens investigation into Capital One data breach Outgoing Senate Budget chair unveils plans to replace Budget Committee MORE (R-Wyo.), a lead sponsor of the Senate bill, said the measure "is about supporting jobs and services we have in our towns, while ensuring states have the ability to collect taxes they are owed, if they choose to.”

Retail groups also praised the reintroduction of the legislation.

"These important measures will fix an outdated tax loophole that currently gives online retailers a price advantage of up to 10 percent over brick-and-mortar stores, has shortchanged communities on much-needed sales tax revenue and overcomplicated our country’s current sales tax system," said Tom McGee, president and CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Other sponsors of the House bill include Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), 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.) and Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzHouse 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 GOP senators decline to criticize Acosta after new Epstein charges MORE (R-Utah). In addition to Enzi, sponsors of the Senate bill include Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility House panel investigating decision to resume federal executions To combat domestic terrorism, Congress must equip law enforcement to fight rise in white supremacist attacks MORE (D-Ill.), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation Criminal justice reform should extend to student financial aid MORE (R-Tenn.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa Al Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D-N.D.).