NAHFA Calls for ‘Equal Playing Field’ for Retailers

CapitolBuilding_DCROSEVILLE, Calif.–The North American Home Furnishings Association (NAHFA) sent a letter to Representative Robert Goodlatte, (R-VA), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, urging him to immediately draft legislative language based on his ‘Basic Principles of Internet Sales Tax’ in order to establish marketplace fairness and an equal playing field for all retailers, whether they be brick-and-mortar stores or online sites.

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing entitled “Exploring Alternative Solutions on the Internet Sales Tax Issue” on Tuesday, March 4, at 10:30 a.m. in Washington, D.C.

The letter explains that like many others in the retail industry, furniture retailers are facing increasing competition from online sales. Industry data suggests that e-commerce websites sold $2.4 billion in furniture in 2011 and that number is expected to double by 2016. Online furniture sales increased 11.1 percent year-over-year in 2012 alone and account for roughly 9 percent of total furniture sales.

The special treatment of online sellers distorts this market and puts many local brick-and-mortar businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

“Our members are strong pillars of the local community and are very well-known, respected, and involved with local activities,” NAHFA CEO Sharron Bradley wrote in the letter sent to Goodlatte. “When their businesses are threatened because they cannot beat an online price point purely due to the application of the sales tax, that not only negatively impacts the owner and the employees, but it creates a ripple effect in a community that will not be repaired by a website that has no connection to that locale.”