Booksellers Urged to Contact State Legislators About E-Fairness

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The American Booksellers Association is calling on booksellers in 44 states that collect sales tax to write to their state legislators today to urge them to follow New York's lead and introduce legislation that would clarify their state's existing tax laws.

Last week, in a significant victory for independent retailers, a New York judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Amazon.com challenging the state's Internet Sales Tax law, which requires online retailers with nexus in the state to collect and remit sales tax on sales made in New York State. A similar lawsuit by Overstock was also dismissed, according to Reuters.

"At a time when most states are faced with significant budget shortfalls, the New York State Supreme Court's recent decision clearly has ramifications for the other 44 states that collect sales tax," said ABA COO Oren Teicher. "Given the court victory here in New York, which has brought about concrete and positive change for in-state businesses, it is imperative that we maintain our momentum and keep the pressure on."

To help booksellers in this crucial endeavor, ABA has prepared a template letter that can be adapted and sent to their state legislators and to their governors as well. ABA is also asking booksellers to notify ABA Public Policy Liaison David Grogan at dave@bookweb.org, when they have sent the letter. This will help ABA compile information to support its sales tax lobbying efforts.

In addition, ABA is encouraging bookseller members with any connection to a state legislator who might be sympathetic to the association's efforts to arrange a meeting with him or her regarding e-fairness. ABA will provide members with the necessary briefing, materials, and information -- and, in some cases, might be able to participate in the meeting with you.

Booksellers who have a legislator in mind, or would like to discuss this issue further, should contact Grogan at (800) 637-0037, ext. 6662, or at dave@bookweb.org. In addition, Grogan can help walk booksellers through the process of setting up a legislative meeting and can answer any questions about ABA's Campaign for E-Fairness.



 

[STORE LETTERHEAD]

Dear [ASSEMBLYPERSON][SENATOR]:

As an independent business in [STATE NAME], I am asking that you follow New York State's lead and introduce legislation that would clarify our state's existing tax laws. As you may know, last April, New York State passed a provision that required out-of-state merchants that have clear nexus in the state to collect and remit sales tax. Though the provision was initially challenged by Amazon.com, a New York State Supreme Court judge recently dismissed the online retailer's lawsuit. The judge's decision ensures sales tax fairness in New York and will help the state recoup tens of millions of dollars of lost sales tax revenue.

Without question, New York's actions have clear implications for [STATE NAME], especially considering the economic climate in our state. At last count, 22 states are faced with ever-widening budget gaps and many more are eliminating jobs and services crucial to the well-being of their citizens, according to Stateline.org's 2008 Legislative Review. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures State Budget Update, 16 states reported that their general sales tax collections fell below projections, and in nine of these collections were failing to meet reduced estimates. In addition, 12 states indicated that personal income tax collections would not meet projections, and 16 states noted that their corporate income tax collections were below expectations.

These numbers are only going to get worse if states unintentionally continue to subsidize out-of-state businesses by allowing remote merchants with nexus in the state to skirt existing tax laws, thereby letting millions of dollars in sales tax revenue go uncollected. Now more than ever, it's the state's obligation to ensure sales tax equity.

Faced with such grim financial forecasts, states around the country are aggressively seeking solutions. New York State has provided one answer, and that is to enforce existing sales tax laws now. Importantly, I am not discussing any new "Internet taxes." I am simply asking you to equitably enforce existing tax laws by introducing legislation similar to New York State's, which would require out-of-state retailers with nexus in our state -- through an office, warehouse, sales agent, or via online affiliates -- to collect sales tax.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

[NAME, STORE NAME & ADDRESS]