On Monday, April 27, Alzada Knickerbocker of The Avid Reader in Davis, California, and Hut Landon, the executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA), are scheduled to testify at a hearing before the California State Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation in support of Internet Sales Tax legislation that would require out-of-state companies that have affiliates in California to collect and remit sales tax on sales made over the Internet to in-state customers.
In addition, in advance of the hearing on Assembly Bill 178 -- introduced by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner -- NCIBA, the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA), and the American Booksellers Association sent an e-mail to each member of the Revenue and Taxation hearing urging the committee to support the bill.
Skinner's bill has also earned widespread support from such businesses and organizations as California Business Properties Association (which includes Wal-Mart, Target, and Safeway), the California Federation of Teachers, California Professional Firefighters, the California School Employees Association, League of California Cities, Netflix, the National Association of College Stores, and Service Employees International Union.
In the letter, NCIBA, SCIBA, and ABA wrote: "The results of sales tax inequity can be seen in the many empty storefronts on Main Streets throughout California. Sometimes, however, it doesn't result in a store closure, but in lost sales tax through decreased sales and lost income tax through job cuts. A downturn on Main Street creates a ripple effect that echoes throughout our state's economy. In the end, it's the residents of California who shoulder this burden through higher property or school taxes. So it's important to understand that when out-of-state retailers with affiliates in California shirk their responsibility to collect and remit sales tax, it doesn't just affect a few small businesses here or there, it hurts the state's entire economy.
"The bottom line is we are simply asking for a level playing field while out-of-state, online giants wish to maintain an unfair competitive advantage," the groups stressed.
"ABA appreciates that Alzada is taking time to testify at Monday's hearing, and we are pleased that so many independent booksellers have contacted their state legislators about this important issue," said ABA COO Oren Teicher. "The debate is very intense and opponents of the bill have done a good job of clouding the real issues -- all of which are about leveling the playing field for California businesses and enforcing existing sales tax laws. We are urging every California bookstore member to contact both their legislators and the members of the Revenue and Taxation committee via e-mail or phone to express support for this bill. If a bookseller has already written their legislator, it is a good idea to send a follow-up communication."
Teicher added, "It's also imperative that booksellers speak with their retailing neighbors to urge them to contact their elected officials in the assembly, especially those booksellers who belong to Shop Local groups. Now is the time to act. With the correct information in hand, legislators will make the right decision and pass this bill. It's up to you. Please write your legislator today."
To help California booksellers in this important advocacy outreach, the groups have prepared a template letter that booksellers can adapt and e-mail to their assembly member in support of A.B. 178 (when e-mailing a letter, always remember to include your store name, address, and city).
Booksellers can look up their California State assembly member here.
Also, here is list of the members on the California Committee on Revenue and Taxation and their districts (again, any booksellers in these districts are strongly urged to contact their legislator now):
- Charles M. Calderon - Chair; Democrat; District 58; (916) 319-2058; Assemblymember.Calderon@assembly.ca.gov
- Chuck DeVore - Vice Chair; Republican; District 70; (916) 319-2070; Assemblymember.email@example.com
- Jim Beall Jr.; Democrat; District 24; (916) 319-2024; Assemblymember.Beall@assembly.ca.gov
- Joe Coto; Democrat; District 23; (916) 319-2023; Assemblymember.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Diane L. Harkey; Republican; District 73; (916) 319-2073; Assemblymember.Harkey@assembly.ca.gov
- Fiona Ma; Democrat; District 12; (916) 319-2012; Assemblymember.Ma@assembly.ca.gov
- Jim Nielsen; Republican; District 2; (916) 319-2002; Assemblymember.Nielsen@assembly.ca.gov
- Anthony J. Portantino; Democrat; District 44; (916) 319-2044; Assemblymember.Portantino@assembly.ca.gov
- Lori Saldaa; Democrat; District 76; (916) 319-2076; Assemblymember.Saldana@assembly.ca.gov