Chicago Booksellers Testify at Sales Tax Fairness Hearing

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On Wednesday, September 29, three Illinois booksellers testified on behalf of sales tax fairness legislation. Ann Christophersen of Women & Children First Bookstore in Chicago -- and a former ABA President; Roberta Rubin of The Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, Illinois; and Jeff Waxman of 57th Street Books in Chicago appeared before an Illinois General Assembly Revenue & Finance Committee Subject Matter hearing on sales tax fairness legislation that is modeled after the New York State sales tax fairness law. Though there was no scheduled vote on the bill (SB 3353), the hearing could help push the bill forward in the legislative process. 

After the hearing, Women & Children First's Christophersen said that the state legislators had paid close attention to the testimony and had asked follow-up questions "to get clarification." She noted that she and her fellow booksellers had stressed that their businesses were definitely being affected by some online retailers' failure to collect state sales tax. "The problem is getting worse and worse," said Christophersen, "in Illinois, online businesses automatically have a 10 percent advantage over us."

If SB 3353, which is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, is enacted, out-of-state online retailers that earn more than $10,000 through online affiliates in Illinois would be considered to have a physical presence in the state. As such, these large online retailers would be required to collect Illinois sales tax, thereby leveling the playing field for Illinois' bricks-and-mortar businesses. Sen. Schoenberg introduced the legislation directly due to the request of The Book Stall's Rubin.

Sen. Schoenberg introduced SB 3353 last February, but the Illinois state Senate Revenue Committee tabled the bill in March.

Booksellers who have questions regarding how SB 3353 will impact their business are asked to contact ABA's Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan at dave@bookweb.org or (800) 637-0037, ext 6662. ABA, GLIBA, and MBA also ask that booksellers notify Grogan when they have sent their letter. This will help the groups compile information to support the e-fairness lobbying effort.