On Monday, November 10, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) vowed to block any attempt to pass e-fairness legislation in the lame-duck session of Congress. In response, the Marketplace Fairness Coalition sent Rep. Boehner a letter signed by more than 320 organizations that urges him to tackle e-fairness in this legislative session.
The letter’s signatories included the American Booksellers Association, American Independent Business Alliance, Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association, New England Independent Booksellers Association, Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, and Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.
In the letter, the Marketplace Fairness Coalition wrote: “Locally based retailers and wholesaler-distributors and their employees across the country expect Congress to make 2014 the last year in which Main Street businesses are burdened with a government-sanctioned price disadvantage, compared to their online competitors. The time to level the playing field has come.”
Despite Boehner’s resistance to e-fairness, the lame-duck session may represent the best chance to pass e-fairness legislation in the short-term, so it is crucial that members of Congress hear from all supporters of sales tax fairness. With Republicans taking control of the U.S. Senate in January 2015 and increasing their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the outlook for e-fairness legislation at the federal level is muddled. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is also on record as opposing e-fairness, having voted “No” for the Marketplace Fairness Act in May 2013.
The letter to the Speaker points out that the issue of e-fairness has been considered enough, and the time to act is now. “There have been more than 30 Congressional hearings on this issue since1994, including three hearings in the House Judiciary Committee in the past three years alone…. [R]ecent national polling results show that 7 in 10 consumers support legislation requiring online sellers to collect sales tax at the time of purchase just as local brick-and-mortar businesses do.”
To read the letter in full, click here. In addition, booksellers are encouraged to reach out to House members. The Coalition has created a campaign platform that enables individuals to easily call, tweet and email their Members of Congress to take action on efairness.