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Senate passes Internet sales tax bill

By Nick Bullock
Published: May 7, 2013
Brick-and-mortar hobby retailers are one step closer to legislation that would, in their eyes, level the retail playing field.

The Marketplace Fairness Act — commonly known as the Internet sales tax bill — passed in the Senate on May 6 by a 69-to-27 bipartisan vote. The legislation will now head to the House.

The bill, if passed, would allow states to require retailers with more than $1 million in annual out-of-state Internet sales to collect sales tax, which those retailers will then pay to their state and local governments.

“It definitely is going to help,” said Bruce Throne, National Retail Hobby Stores Association President and owner of Walt’s Hobby in Syracuse, N.Y. “It’s certainly a good step in the right direction.”

Throne said he is not pleased with some of the bill’s exemptions, such as the requirement that retailers make more than $1 million in online sales in order to fall under the bill’s influence.

In fall of 2011, Throne led a contingent of brick-and-mortar hobby and book retailers to Washington to express their support for Internet sales tax legislation. He said it’s nice to see their efforts pay off at least a little.

Throne said Internet sales tax legislation is essential for the survival of brick-and-mortar stores, especially hobby stores since much of their customer base is aging and the younger customers that have replaced them are increasingly tech savvy, buying many products online.

“I would say [Internet sales tax legislation] factors heavily into whether a brick-and-mortar store can be competitive,” he said. “It should help brick-and-mortar stores level the playing field that little bit more.”