Last Thursday, Connecticut's Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee passed sales tax fairness legislation, HB 5481, by a vote of 35 - 13. The legislation now goes to Connecticut's House of Representatives for consideration.
On March 15, ABA member booksellers Kathryn Fabiani of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison; Fran Keilty of Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot; Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books in Mystic; and Suzanne Staubach of UConn Co-op in Storrs attended a committee hearing in support of HB 5481. Fabiani, Philbrick, and Staubach testified at the hearing, as did ABA Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan.
"It is great to see that the efforts of Connecticut booksellers -- both those who testified and those who wrote, e-mailed, and called their elected officials -- has paid off. It's clear that all their work made a significant impact with the committee," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. "However, the important next step is for booksellers to communicate to their elected officials in the state House of Representatives just how crucial sales tax equity is to their businesses. At present, the opponents of e-fairness are lobbying aggressively against this bill. To level the playing field in Connecticut, it's imperative that every booksellers call his or her representative now and urge support for HB 5481."
If HB 5481 is signed into law, out-of-state online retailers who earn more than $2,000 through online affiliates in Connecticut would be considered to have a physical presence in the state. As such, these large online retailers would be required to collect Connecticut sales tax, thereby leveling the playing field for Connecticut's bricks-and-mortar businesses.
ABA and the New England Independent Booksellers Association are urging booksellers to call their legislators in support of HB 5481. If their state representative is on Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee and voted yes for HB 5481, booksellers should thank their representative. If their House Representative voted no -- or if he or she is not part of the committee -- it is imperative that booksellers let their them know how the current sales tax inequity is hurting their business and that HB 5481 is the solution.
ABA and NEIBA recommend that booksellers call their representatives as soon as they can, and then follow up with an e-mail or fax. To help booksellers with this outreach, ABA has prepared a template letter that offers talking points and can be adapted and e-mailed to booksellers' state representatives. --David Grogan