On Thursday, November 5, Frank Kramer, owner emeritus of Harvard Book Store and co-chair of Cambridge Local First, spoke in favor of e-fairness at a public meeting on tax policy held in Cambridge by the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Revenue. The meeting, which was part of the Joint Committee's "Listening Tour," was one of several held throughout the commonwealth. The focus was tax policy and working families. Kramer was one of eight speakers during the night.
"I attended because the Massachusetts sales tax just went up by 25 percent, from 5 percent to 6.25 percent, and local merchants have mentioned that this increase is definitely forcing more consumers to the Internet to save the tax," Kramer reported via e-mail. "I'm personally outraged that Massachusetts leadership is slashing and cutting programs and payrolls because of the decline in revenues while they are either overlooking or -- far worse -- deciding to forego the millions that Internet sellers should be collecting and paying to Massachusetts. And, by doing so," he stressed, "they are giving an unfair competitive advantage to businesses outside of Massachusetts at the expense of locally owned businesses."
Presiding at the event were the committee's co-chairs, State Sen. Benjamin Downing (D-Berkshire, Hampshire, and Franklin), and Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington). Also in attendance was Kramer's state rep, Alice Wolf (D-Middlesex). Kramer told BTW that he knows Wolf "quite well," and she had in fact informed him of Thursday's meeting. To prepare his presentation, Kramer used e-fairness materials available on ABA's Sales Tax Initiative page on BookWeb.org.
"I told them that I was baffled as to why the state is giving away this unfair competitive advantage to sellers like Amazon, not to mention a million a month in tax revenues, that legally should be collected and paid," reported Kramer, adding "My rep made a comment in support of my statement."
Kramer distributed customized copies of the template letter to reps and senators, created by ABA, and "emphasized that ... we were subsidizing out of state business at the expense of locally owned businesses throughout Massachusetts." --David Grogan