On Wednesday, April 14, Suzy Staubach of UConn Co-op Bookstore in Storrs, Connecticut, went to the state capital in support of HB 5481, sales tax fairness legislation. Staubach, who was accompanied on her visit by ABA staff, met with the legislators representing the districts of both her home and UConn Co-op. These included meetings with House Majority Leader Rep. Denise Merrill; Rep. Bryan Hurlburt; Sen. President Pro Tempore Donald Williams; Sen. Anthony Guglielmo; and Sen. Andrew Roraback (on behalf of three ABA member bookstores in Roraback's district).
If HB 5481 is signed into law, out-of-state online retailers who earn more than $2,000 through online affiliates in Connecticut would be considered to have a physical presence in the state. As such, these large online retailers would be required to collect Connecticut sales tax, thereby leveling the playing field for Connecticut's bricks-and-mortar businesses.
"By all accounts, Suzy's legislative visits were extremely successful, and we appreciate the time she took to make this important trip to Connecticut's capital," said Oren Teicher, ABA CEO. "There is no substitute for face-to-face meetings with lawmakers. These were substantive, productive meetings, and we are thankful that the legislators and their staff took the time during a very hectic day to meet with Suzy. By putting a face to this issue with an in-person visit, Suzy sent a powerful message to her legislators about to how critical it is to pass HB 5481 now to level the playing field for all of the states' retailers."
Said Staubach, "I was pleased with how well received we were by the legislators and pleasantly surprised that even those who had not responded to my earlier letters or e-mails remembered getting them. Overall, the response was very positive and in some cases, enthusiastically on the side of e-fairness. The day's experience left me even more convinced of the importance of reaching out to elected officials. I strongly encourage fellow booksellers to make visits or contact their legislators. It really does make a difference."
With the Connecticut House planning a vote on HB 5481 any day now, the American Booksellers Association and the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA) continue to urge the state's bookstore members to contact their lawmakers now to voice their support for HB 5481.
ABA and NEIBA recommend that booksellers call their representatives as soon as they can, and follow up with an e-mail or fax. ABA has prepared a template letter with talking points that then can be adapted and e-mailed to Connecticut state representatives. Booksellers can find their legislators here.
If a bookseller's representative is a member of Connecticut's Finance, Revenue, and Bonding committee and he or she voted yes for HB 5481, booksellers are encouraged to contact him or her to say thank you for supporting sales tax equity. (Here is the final committee vote tally). For those booksellers whose state representative voted no -- or if he or she is not part of the committee -- it is imperative that they let their representative know how the current sales tax inequity is hurting their business and that they believe HB 5481 is the solution. --David Grogan