On Wednesday, February 27, the American Booksellers Association called on member bookstores in New York State to voice their support for the Internet Sales Tax provision in Gov. Eliot Spitzer's proposed budget by writing to both their state senator and assemblyperson. If the budget is approved with the provision, out-of-state online retailers selling products in New York State will be required to collect state sales tax. The budget, which is due by April 1, will be debated by legislators throughout March.
"With debate over the budget in full swing over the next few weeks, the time for New York booksellers to act is now," said ABA COO Oren Teicher. "We have a great opportunity to effect change and level the playing field for New York State businesses -- we must not let it slip away. We strongly urge all of our New York members to adapt and send the letters we have provided."
The letter-writing effort is just the start of a multifaceted campaign, said Teicher, and he urged New York booksellers to reach out to other independent retailers in their communities to join the effort. In addition, he noted that the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, which has played an important role in the campaign for e-fairness, is once again providing vital assistance in this current letter-writing initiative.
Gov. Spitzer is seeking legislative approval to clarify what constitutes nexus for online retailers selling to New York State residents. The provision, which is contained in the state's Executive Budget-Briefing Book, stipulates that online retailers such as Amazon.com that have certain selling activities in the state should be required to collect and remit sales tax for sales made in New York State. At present, Amazon.com is lobbying New York lawmakers to drop the provision from the budget, so it is important for in-state retailers to contact their legislators in support of the legislation as soon as possible.
In November, ABA and New York booksellers wrote Gov. Spitzer to call for the equitable collection of sales tax. Only two months later, the governor announced that the Internet Sales Tax provision was in the proposed budget.
ABA also asks that booksellers notify David Grogan, ABA public policy liaison, via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, when their letters have been sent. This will help ABA compile information to support its sales tax lobbying efforts. --David Grogan