This week, ABA CEO Oren Teicher wrote to Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA) on behalf of the American Booksellers Association and its bookseller members to thank him for introducing the Main Street Fairness Act. ABA also e-mailed booksellers nationwide to urge them to write to their legislators in support of the bill.
"ABA has been a longtime supporter of federal legislation to achieve sales tax equity in order to level the playing field for bricks-and-mortar stores," said Teicher. "We are grateful that Rep. Delahunt has reintroduced this legislation. We urge booksellers to contact their federal representatives to ask them to support this bill."
He stressed, however, that ABA will continue its statewide efforts on behalf of e-fairness and noted that ABA sees the federal and state-by-state efforts as complementary. "The bottom line is that our members need a solution to the current sales tax inequity, and we are working vigorously toward that goal," Teicher said. "There is no question that New York's passage of e-fairness legislation in 2008 heightened awareness of this issue and intensified both state and federal efforts. Since then, the passage of sales tax equity legislation in four additional states -- and extensive advocacy efforts in many other states -- has clearly supported the federal effort by raising awareness and helping to build a growing e-fairness coalition."
The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA) seeks to simplify and modernize sales and use tax collection and administration to make it much easier for online retailers to collect sales tax. To date, 24 states are part of SSUTA and have simplified and streamlined their sales tax laws under the compact's uniform set of guidelines. The Main Street Fairness Act, Rep. Delahunt noted, provides congressional authority for this interstate compact to take effect. The legislation does not compel any state to join, but any state that adopts this system would then have the authority to require online retailers to collect and remit sales taxes.
In his letter to Delahunt, Teicher wrote: "As you know, bricks-and-mortar retail businesses have been operating at a competitive disadvantage for years and whatever can be done to level the playing field is long overdue. We hope your legislation will provide a renewed impetus for this debate – both in Washington and around the country – and we look forward to doing whatever we can to be supportive."
The 24 states that belong to, or are in the process of joining, SSUTA are: Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
To make it easier for booksellers to call or e-mail their representatives, ABA has prepared a template letter that can be adapted and e-mailed or used as a resource for talking points. The letter can be found in ABA's E-Fairness Action Kit under a bookseller's specific state. ABA also asked booksellers to notify David Grogan at email@example.com or (800) 637-0037, ext 6662, when they have sent a letter or made a call. This will help ABA compile information to support this lobbying effort.