New Sales-Tax Bill Targets Online Retailers

       

       

WASHINGTON-A bill introduced by a bipartisan group of 53 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate would open the door to leveling the playing field between brick-and-mortar retailers and Internet retailers.

Called the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, the bill, introduced last week, would give states the option to require the collection of sales and use taxes from out-of-state businesses, rather than rely on consumers to pay those taxes to the states, which is the current method. According to marketplacefairness.org, a website developed by online retail services firm TaxCloud, those businesses would include online retailers and catalogs, no matter where they are located, who would be required to collect sales tax at the time of the transaction, as is the case with local brick-and-mortar stores.

The National Retail Federation issued a statement supporting the bill. “For far too long, local retailers and small-business owners have been saddled with a competitive disadvantage with online retailers—sales taxes,” said David French, NRF senior vice president for government relations.

French added that the sales-tax disparity has hindered local retailers and led to a loss of $24 billion for state and local governments. “As e-commerce and m-commerce continue to increase in market share, it’s time Congress allows all retailers to compete on the same playing field,” he said.

Responding to the bill’s introduction, Amazon.com’s Paul Misener, vice president for global public policy, sent a letter to Sens. Lamar Alexander, Richard Durbin, Mike Enzi and Heidi Heitkamp, all among the bill’s sponsors. In the letter, sent to HFN by Amazon, Misener thanked the sponsors for the bill, which, he said, “will allow states with simplified rules to require sales tax collection by out-of-state sellers who choose to make sales to in-state buyers.”

Misener said Amazon will work with the sponsors to ensure that the bill is “appropriate” for interstate sellers. “When enacted, your bill will protect the states’ rights to make and maintain their own revenue policy choices, without new taxes or federal spending,” he said. “Your bill also will facilitate compliance with state sales tax laws by consumers and retailers.”