Illinois Booksellers Meet With Governor’s Office in Support of Sales Tax Fairness

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On Tuesday, February 1, four ABA member booksellers braved threats of an impending blizzard and joined other retailers in a meeting with members of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s office to urge the governor to sign HB3659, sales tax fairness legislation. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) organized the meeting.

The booksellers attending the meeting were ABA Vice President Becky Anderson of Anderson’s Bookshops in Naperville; Linda Bubon of Women & Children First in Chicago; Roberta Rubin of The Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka; and Nancy Usiak of The Book Bin in Northbrook.

“We are very grateful to the booksellers for taking the time out of their busy schedules to attend this critical meeting with the governor’s office – especially when faced with such challenges from the weather,” said Oren Teicher, ABA CEO. “We’re also very appreciative for all that IRMA did to coordinate this very productive meeting. As we heard throughout Legislative Day at this year’s Winter Institute in Washington, D.C., there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting, and it seems clear that the booksellers and their fellow retailers presented a very strong case in Illinois.”

Attending the meeting from the governor’s office were Jack Lavin, chief of staff; Lindsay Anderson, director of legislative affairs; Andy Ross, deputy governor; Adam Braun, assistant to the chief of staff; and Brian Hamer, director of the Illinois Department of Revenue.

Following the meeting, Becky Anderson told BTW:  “I think Gov. Quinn’s Chief of Staff, Jack Lavin, really got a face-to-face understanding of what is at stake for all of us in the room, and, of course, other brick-and-mortar retailers in Illinois…. I spoke to what it means to independent booksellers in our state as well as to what ABA is doing to advocate for legislation all over the country.... I think we all left feeling very positive and optimistic about our meeting.”

“The meeting went very well,” said Rubin via e-mail. “We were quite elated by the time we left! The snow was coming down, so we all hurried out after a short wrap-up with David Vite [IRMA President].” Rubin praised Vite’s handling of the meeting and said some in the governor’s office expressed strong support for Main Streetstores.  She added, “I was so glad I was able to attend the meeting.  I feel we made some progress.”

Bubon concurred with Rubin’s assessment of the meeting. IRMA “assembled an awesome team,” including both the booksellers and senior executives from Home Depot, Walgreen’s, and Sears. “I was very happy to be aligned with bricks-and-mortar chain businesses on this issue,” said Bubon. “We need to work together against online-only monsters who try to cheat the states of retail tax.” 

HB3659, passed in early January, contains a sales tax fairness provision. The bill, if signed by the Gov. Quinn, will require remote retailers with online affiliates in the state acting as sales agents to collect and remit sales tax for purchases made by Illinois residents. The governor has until mid-March to sign the bill.

In the meantime, ABA continues to urge Illinois booksellers to call and write to Gov. Quinn to ask that he sign HB3659.

The phone number of the governor’s office is (217) 782-0244.

His address is:

Office of the Governor
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
[email protected]

To help Illinois booksellers in this important advocacy outreach, ABA has prepared a template letter that can be adapted and mailed to the governor, or it can be used as a source for talking points for a phone call.

Illinois booksellers with any questions regarding how HB3659 will impact their businesses should contact ABA’s Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan at [email protected] or (800) 637-0037, ext 6662. ABA also asks that Illinois booksellers notify Grogan when they have sent letters or made calls. This will help ABA compile information to support sales tax fairness lobbying effort.