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Online sales tax gets bipartisan push

Published: March 17, 2015

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. have teamed to reintroduce the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would enable states to collect sales tax from out-of-state online businesses. Additionally, Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Sheldon Whitehouse, D.-R.I. and Angus King, R-Maine, joined as original cosponsors of the Senate bill, which was first passed by the Senate in 2013 but failed to advance in the House.

 

So far, 23 states have passed what some call “Amazon sales tax” laws. However, it’s a patchwork of regulation as states differ on collection methods and the definition of online retailers. Additionally, some states, including Arizona and Wisconsin, are drafting special tax cuts to offset the increased revenue if the MFA passes. Ohio has already passed such a law.

 

Brick-and-mortar advocates such as the National Retail Federation and the International Council of Shopping Centers have voiced support for the MFA. But earlier this year, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, reaffirmed his opposition to the bill and stated that it would not be taken up in 2015.

 

Undaunted, Betsy Laird, senior vice president of global public policy for ICSC, says, “The Senate sponsors have initiated the process to ensure that the market, not the government, determines winners and losers. With 60 votes in the Senate, it is now up to the House to move forward with legislation. We believe this is the year they will finally stand up for local businesses that create jobs and support our communities.”

 

Further details and text of the bill can be found at marketplacefairness.org.