E-Fairness Bills in Louisiana Unanimously Clear Ways & Means Committee

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Tom Lowenburg of Octavia Books Testifies in Support

With federal e-fairness legislation stalled, states continue to take the matter of leveling the playing field into their own hands.

On Tuesday, April 28, the Louisiana House Ways & Means Committee held a hearing on three separate, but identical, affiliate nexus proposals to require remote retailers to collect and remit sales tax in the state. Testifying in support of the bills at the Ways & Means Committee hearing was ABA member Tom Lowenburg of Octavia Books in New Orleans. The bills unanimously passed the committee following the hearing and are now expected to move to the House floor for consideration.

“I thought it was important to testify in support of the bills because, as an independent bookstore, we are on the front line of this issue,” Lowenburg told BTW via e-mail. “We understand the impact and the absurdity of exempting online retailers from collecting sales tax, and we know what needs to be done to protect our fragile local economy.”

The e-fairness bills under consideration would require remote retailers with a broad network of affiliates in the state to collect and remit sales tax in the state. A remote retailer would be required to have a network of online affiliates doing $50,000 or more in sales in the preceding year to trigger nexus.

In his testimony before the committee, Lowenburg noted that Octavia Books has grown and thrived despite working at a “total unfair economic” disadvantage due to the sales tax inequity. “We have to operate in an atmosphere where we automatically have to charge nine or 10 percent more than our competition,” Lowenburg said. “That’s not a sustainable situation…. We’re giving people a reason to take their money and spend it elsewhere.”

Lowenburg noted that if Louisiana wanted to come up with the worst economic policy for the state the current sales tax inequity would be a “good road map.” He added: “This is an urgent matter for us and an urgent matter for the state.”