Marketplace Fairness Act Faces Tough Challenge in U.S. House

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Following bipartisan approval in the U.S. Senate on May 6, the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) of 2013 will now be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives. And though the sales tax fairness bill passed by a vote of 69 to 27 in the Senate, all signs point to a tough fight in the coming months in the House. Neither House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) nor House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) seems favorable to the bill, based on published reports.

On Tuesday, Boehner told The Hill that MFA was not currently a House priority. He said the ball was in Goodlatte’s court, noting that the Judiciary Committee has “jurisdiction over this. I’ve not talked to him about it. I don’t know what his intent is, in terms of whether he’s interested in moving it through his committee or not.”

Goodlatte told the Richmond Times Dispatch that he worries the “bill could create due process type concerns regarding the ability for affected businesses to sufficiently petition for relief from aggressive state actions and could open the door for states to tax or even regulate beyond their borders. I am open to considering legislation concerning this topic, but these issues, along with others, would certainly have to be addressed.”

Goodlatte added that the Judiciary Committee will also look at alternatives that could “enable states to collect sales tax revenues without opening the door to aggressive state action against out-of-state companies.”

While Goodlatte was noncommittal regarding his committee’s consideration of the bill, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told The Hill that the Marketplace Fairness Act is a bill that Rep. Boehner or Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will find “difficult not bringing to the floor for a vote.” He added that, if brought to the floor for a vote, the bill would “pass handily.”