Florida Booksellers Call on Colleagues to Join E-Fairness Effort

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Carla Jimenez of Inkwood Books in Tampa and Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books in Coral Gables, Miami Beach, and Bal Harbour are strongly encouraging their Florida bookselling colleagues to urge state lawmakers to craft Internet Sales Tax legislation modeled after the bill adopted by New York State in April 2008. In an e-mail sent on Wednesday, March 18, Jimenez, a former ABA Board member, and Kaplan, a former ABA president, told their indie colleagues: "We need your help now. As booksellers, our two businesses operate in diverse parts of Florida, but we are united in our support for our state's Campaign for E-Fairness.... We are writing to you as fellow booksellers because we believe that there now exists a real opportunity for us to make a difference -- and we'd be remiss if we didn't stress this point."

In the past two months, sales tax legislation similar to the New York provision has been introduced in California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, and, most recently, Tennessee.

"We appreciate that Mitch and Carla have taken the time to e-mail their colleagues on this very important issue," said ABA COO Oren Teicher. "With so many states grappling with budget shortfalls, the issue of e-fairness is now front and center. Five states have introduced legislation to enforce existing sales tax laws, and we urge all of our members in those states to write to their legislators today to call for their support of their respective bills. A simple letter from a business can make a world of difference."

Florida State Sen. Evelyn Lynn and State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda recently 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, Teicher stressed that the remedies offered by SSUTA are several years away, at best, and seeking an intra-state solution is not mutually exclusive with pursuing SSUTA.

To help Florida booksellers in this important advocacy effort, ABA has prepared a letter that can be adapted and sent to Gov. Charlie Crist and to their state senator and representative.

ABA is also asking booksellers to include a "cc" to Sen. Evelyn Lynn and Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda on each of their letters, and that they notify David Grogan, the association's public policy liaison, 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 and to notify ABA, and their regional association when they have done so. Booksellers can find a template letter to adapt and send to their lawmakers on ABA's Sales Tax Initiative page. --David Grogan