On Thursday, January 15, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed the recently passed Main Street Fairness legislation into law, thereby leveling the playing field for the state’s Main Street retailers. Under the law, remote retailers with a broad network of online affiliates, such as Amazon.com, will be required to begin collecting and remitting sales tax to the state beginning October 1, 2015.
The current conditions put Michigan “retailers at a competitive disadvantage, compared to sellers from out of state that are selling online,” Gov. Snyder told television station WZZM13. “We want a fair and level playing environment for people to be successful. That’s the way it should be — government should not be the influence on where someone purchases something.” According to WZZM13, the state treasury projects that the new legislation will bring in about $60 million a year.
The American Booksellers Association is now asking member bookstores in Michigan to thank the governor for signing the bill into law. In an e-mail sent on January 19, ABA CEO Oren Teicher urged booksellers to reach out to the governor. “In states that have passed similar legislation, Amazon has responded by firing its affiliates and then bullying states into providing it with millions of dollars in tax breaks in exchange for collecting and remitting sales tax,” he wrote. “For that reason, a quick thank-you could mean all the difference and will let the governor know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that indie booksellers support the Main Street Fairness law.”
To make booksellers’ outreach easier, ABA has created a template thank-you letter, which Michigan booksellers can adapt and send to Gov. Snyder.
Michigan joins 28 other states that have passed legislation requiring remote retailers to either collect and remit sales tax or requiring Amazon to collect sales tax as part of a deal to open a warehouse in the state. (In five of the 28 states, Amazon fired its online affiliates to avoid having to collect sales tax.)