California Booksellers Urged to Contact State Legislators on E-Fairness

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With a crucial hearing on California's Internet Sales Tax legislation less than two weeks away, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA), the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association (SCIBA), and the American Booksellers Association are strongly encouraging California booksellers to contact their state legislators to urge them to support Assembly Bill 178.

The bill, which was introduced by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, would require out-of-state online retailers with California-based affiliates to collect and remit sales tax for purchases made by California residents. The California State Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation, chaired by Assemblymember Charles Calderon, has scheduled the hearing on the bill for April 27.

ABA COO Oren Teicher stressed that it's crucial for every California bookstore member to contact their legislators, especially those in the same district as committee members.

"The many large, out-of-state retailers with affiliates in California -- retailers that wish to maintain an unfair competitive advantage by ignoring the state's sales tax laws -- are well organized, and, frankly, have done their best to cloud this issue," Teicher said. "Booksellers need to send a very loud statement to the committee and legislators: This fight is about how large, out-of-state retailers are being allowed to offer California customers tax-free shopping, which puts law-abiding in-state businesses at a profoundly unfair disadvantage. Maintaining this inequitable status quo will hardly help any of California's retailers, and it severely harms the state's fiscal health. It's not the role of government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace. Passing this law will ensure that all businesses complete on a level playing field."

Teicher added, "It's also imperative that booksellers speak with their retailing neighbors to urge them to send letters, especially those booksellers who belong to Shop Local groups. Now is the time to act. With the correct information in hand, legislators will make the right decision and pass this bill. It's up to you. Please write your legislator today."

To help California booksellers in this important advocacy outreach, the groups have prepared a template letter that booksellers can adapt and e-mail to their assembly member in support of A.B. 178 (when e-mailing a letter, always remember to include your store name, address, and city).

Booksellers can look up their California State assembly member here.

Also, here is list of the members on the California Committee on Revenue and Taxation and their districts (again, any booksellers in these districts are strongly urged to contact their legislator now):

When letters have been sent, booksellers are asked to notify their regional executive director and ABA's David Grogan. This will help support their lobbying efforts. --David Grogan