Booksellers Urged to Meet Locally With Federal Lawmakers

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The American Booksellers Association is urging members to meet with their federal lawmakers in person in their local, district offices to express their 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.

In a recent e-mail to bookstore members, ABA CEO Oren Teicher stressed, “This is a very important time to let your elected officials know that you support sales tax fairness.” In mid-January, ABA Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan met in Washington, D.C., with key lawmakers in both the House and Senate to discuss the bills. While the two bills have momentum, Teicher noted, “We learned that strong support from independent retailers could be key in moving the bills another step forward.”

The Marketplace Equity Act was introduced last October by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), and it provides states with the authority to require remote retailers, including online-only businesses, to collect and remit sales taxes. Under the bill, if a state chooses to require remote retailers to collect and remit, in order to trigger nexus in that state, a remote retailer must do $1 million in remote sales annually.

In November, a bipartisan group in the Senate, led by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Tim Johnson (D-SD), introduced The Marketplace Fairness Act, legislation that would provide states with authorization to require remote sellers to collect and remit state sales tax. This bill also authorizes states that are part of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement to require remote sellers to collect and remit. In the Senate bill, a store would have to have more than $500,000 in remote sales nationally to trigger nexus in a state.

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.

ABA’s e-mail to member bookstores specified that the best time to set up district 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 the association is urging booksellers to call their legislators’ district offices as soon as they can to set up an appointment during that time.

There will be another district work period from April 2 through April 15, and, after that, from May 1 through May 6. However, ABA hopes booksellers can make their appointment for the week of February 20.

“Again, we know how busy you are, but rest assured, a 15-minute meeting with your lawmaker could make a big difference,” Teicher wrote in the e-mail. “No one is quite as persuasive as a constituent, and there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting.

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.