BusinessWeek Op-Ed Urges Sales Tax Fairness

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In a November 22 BusinessWeek op-ed, Kathleen McHugh, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, and Oren Teicher, chief executive officer of the American Booksellers Association, urge the U.S. House of Representatives to consider the issue of sales tax fairness and “act swiftly to tackle it.”

McHugh and Teicher co-authored the piece in their capacity as co-chairs of Advocates for Independent Business, a new coalition of nine national organizations working together to address public policy issues, including sales tax fairness, that affect independent businesses. 

The op-ed counters many arguments against the legislation from opponents of sales tax fairness. “In a remarkable feat of inversion, opponents have argued in one op-ed after another that it would harm small businesses,” McHugh and Teicher wrote.

“The opponents’ narrative is not true. The Marketplace Fairness Act is not the brainchild of large retail chains seeking to crush small businesses.  Small retailers, including thousands of our members, first called for legislation along these lines in the late 1990s.  At the time, many national chains opposed our effort to make online sales subject to tax collection. Most have since come to agree with our position.”

Noting that “many have pointed to Amazon’s stated support for federal Internet sales tax legislation as a sign that small businesses would end up the losers,” they stressed that the online giant’s position is “neither new nor quite so simple.”  Ten years ago, Amazon supported an earlier iteration of the Marketplace Fairness Act but then pressed legislators to make changes that ended up derailing the bill. “Today, Amazon continues to push for reducing or eliminating the exception, a change that could once again undercut the bill’s chances,” McHugh and Teicher said.

In conclusion, they wrote: “We believe a level playing field is at the heart of our country’s founding principles and is central to both state and national interests. Small businesses are overwhelmingly disadvantaged by current policy. We hope that House members will recognize the urgency of this issue and act swiftly to tackle it.”