Associations Urge Governors to Support Federal Sales Tax Fairness Legislation

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This week, a coalition of 17 trade associations representing independent businesses, including the American Booksellers Association, urged the governors of the 45 states that collect sales tax to support federal sales tax fairness bills under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives and  Senate: The Marketplace Equity Act (H.R. 3179) and the Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 1832).

In a letter to the governors, the coalition stressed: “We urge you to publicly support two federal bills that would give states the right to require these remote retailers to collect and remit sales tax in the state.”

Describing the current situation, the coalition letter noted, “Something must be done soon. Our members have dealt with the current inequity for more than a decade now and are at a tipping point. Due to the unlevel playing field, many retailers are letting go of staff, cutting back on workers’ hours, trimming employee benefits, and, in a growing number of cases, closing their doors for good. As you can imagine, this has had an adverse impact on the state’s fiscal health. As e-commerce grows, the situation will only get worse.”

In addition, the coalition strongly expressed its opposition to any kind of exemption for any remote retailer that has a clear physical presence in the state. This comes in response to agreements that a number of states have made with, which provide multi-year sales tax exemptions in exchange for opening a warehouse in the state.  This message was delivered to the governors of those states that do not have state sales tax fairness laws and that have not offered any sales-tax exemptions to remote, online retailers.

The coalition noted: “When our retail members opened their stores, the state expected them to collect and remit sales tax — and they did. We should expect the same of any online retailer that has a physical presence in the state, via a store, office, warehouse, or online affiliates that act as sales agents. Clearly, the surest way to level the playing field for your state’s Main Street retailers is to support the proposed federal legislation. These bills would leave no room for a judge or lawmaker to misinterpret sales tax law.”

The signatories of the letter are the American Booksellers Association; American Specialty Toy Retailing Association; CBA: The Association for Christian Retail; Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association; Independent Running Retailer Association; Jewelers of America; Midwest Independent Booksellers Association; Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association; National Association of College Stores; National Bicycle Dealers Association; National Retail Hobby Stores Association; National School Supply & Equipment Association; New England Independent Booksellers Association; New England Independent Booksellers Association; Northern California Independent Booksellers Association; Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association; Southern California Independent Booksellers Association; and the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.