On Monday, March 2, the American Booksellers Association asked Florida booksellers to urge their state lawmakers to craft Internet Sales Tax legislation modeled after the bill adopted by New York State in April 2008. In the past two months, similar sales tax legislation has been introduced in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Minnesota.
The e-mail to ABA bookseller members in Florida was prompted by news that State Sen. Evelyn Lynn and State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda had introduced legislation to bring Florida into compliance with the national Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA).
While ABA supports a national solution to the issue of e-fairness, in an e-mail to Florida booksellers, ABA COO Oren Teicher stressed that seeking an intra-state solution is not mutually exclusive with pursuing SSUTA. "The remedies offered by SSUTA are, at best, several years away, and, in the meantime, independent booksellers ... are operating in an economic crisis and competing on a very uneven playing field, as national online retailers refuse to obey the law and collect state sales tax," said Teicher. "We believe it's best that Florida follow New York State's lead and introduce an intra-state solution to redress this inequitable situation sooner rather than later."
ABA is encouraging Florida booksellers to e-mail Gov. Charlie Crist as well as their state legislators. To have the greatest impact, the e-mail should include the store's physical address so that legislators know the bookseller is a constituent. It is also acceptable to fax or mail a copy of the letter on store letterhead. Booksellers choosing to mail their letters should send them to their legislators' district offices, if possible.
ABA also asks that booksellers include a "cc" to Sen. Evelyn Lynn and Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda on each of their letters, and that they notify David Grogan, ABA public policy liaison, via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, when their letters have been sent. This will help ABA compile information to support its sales tax lobbying efforts.
ABA is also urging booksellers in the other states that collect sales tax to call on their lawmakers to introduce legislation in support of e-fairness. Booksellers can find a template letter to adapt and send to their lawmakers on ABA's Sales Tax Initiative page. Booksellers are also asked to notify both their regional association and ABA's David Grogan when they have sent their letters. This will help both the regional associations and ABA compile information to support their lobbying efforts. --David Grogan