Booksellers Urged to Meet With Lawmakers

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

The American Booksellers Association continues to urge members to meet with federal lawmakers at their district offices to express support for bipartisan sales tax fairness legislation currently under consideration: The Marketplace Equity Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Marketplace Fairness Act in the U.S. Senate. Both bills would give states the authority — and the choice — to require remote retailers to collect and remit sales tax on orders made by residents in their state.
In a recent e-mail to bookstore members, ABA CEO Oren Teicher stressed that “this is a very important time to let your elected officials know that you support sales tax fairness.” While the two bills have momentum, Teicher said, “We learned that strong support from independent retailers could be key in moving the bills another step forward.”

Teicher’s e-mail prompted Jonah Zimiles of [words] Bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey, to arrange meetings with his U.S. senators while he was in Washington, D.C., on a previously planned trip. In two separate meetings, Zimiles was able to talk to staff from the offices of Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on Tuesday, February 7.

At Sen. Menendez’s office, Zimiles, a former tax attorney, explained how the mission of [words] is to provide vocational training and opportunities for young people with autism and to serve as an “intellectual and cultural center in our community,” he told BTW via e-mail. “I then suggested that persons with disabilities critically depend upon local employment and shopping opportunities provided by businesses in the community. In addition, he told Sen. Menendez’s staff: “A retail mix in our town could not be preserved if online merchants had a built-in seven-percent advantage.”  Zimiles said the meeting went well, and that he was told the senator “expressed strong interest in and solidarity for local businesses.”

His meeting with Sen. Lautenberg’s office was “quite rewarding,” Zimilies said, and the senator’s staff was very familiar with the sales tax fairness issue. He was told that the senator’s office had “three other meetings on this issue already lined up,” and his staff urged anyone interested in the issue to express their views to the senator.

After his successful meetings, Zimiles is urging his fellow booksellers to meet with their legislators face-to-face in support of a federal solution to sales tax fairness.

For booksellers looking to meet with lawmakers in their district office, the best time to set up appointments is during the next congressional district work period, when Congress is not in session. The next district work period will be February 20 through February 26, but ABA is urging booksellers to call their district offices as soon as possible to set up an appointment for that time.

Once an appointment is set up, ABA strongly encourages booksellers to contact Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan for a full briefing and status update on the sales tax fairness bills. Grogan can also provide booksellers with fact sheets, talking points, and suggestions that will help to ensure that their meetings are a success. He can be reached at (800) 637-0037, ext. 6662 or via e-mail.