Retailers Form Massachusetts Main Street Fairness Coalition

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On Monday, April 9, Massachusetts retailers gathered at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge to announce the formation of the Massachusetts Main Street Fairness Coalition. The coalition, which is led by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts (RAM), was formed to support efforts to close the “sales tax loophole that exists in Massachusetts, which allows online only, remote sellers, to avoid collection and remittance of the state’s sales tax.”

 The coalition is co-chaired by David Didriksen of Willow Books & Café in Acton.

The coalition wants federal and state legislators to level the playing field for Main Street retailers. In addition, the coalition is urging state lawmakers to require Amazon.com, which has a new office in Cambridge and is purchasing a robotics firm in North Reading, to follow existing sales tax laws and collect sales tax.

“We argue that those two facilities create a tax nexus,” said RAM President Jon Hurst, as reported by the Salem News. “(Amazon.com) is not alone, but they are certainly the 800-pound gorilla in the room.... They should be operating by the same rules as real, local employers are doing.”

Hurst told Salem News that “ultimately, we want Congress to fix this. In the meantime, Massachusetts has a great opportunity to go after Amazon.com.... This is an issue that needs to be taken care of and fixed right now.”

On Tuesday, April 10, the coalition sent a letter to all 200 state lawmakers urging them to require Amazon.com, which now has a clear in-state physical presence, to collect and remit sales tax as other Massachusetts businesses do.

In the letter, the Massachusetts Main Street Fairness Coalition wrote:

“Our local Massachusetts retailers are more than happy to compete with Amazon on service and price, but we cannot continue to ask them to overcome a significant 6.25% disadvantage based on state tax policy….

“For years we have struggled with this issue, but now at last a solution is clear. Amazon has arrived in the Commonwealth….  These moves establish a physical presence for Amazon in Massachusetts that should require them to register with the [Department of Revenue] to collect and remit the Massachusetts sales tax on purchases made by Massachusetts residents.

“Amazon is here now, and it is time for them to follow the same laws and rules that any other Massachusetts company must follow. Please support a level playing field for our local businesses and demand that Amazon follow the law.”