NY E-Fairness Initiative Makes Progress Despite Albany Uncertainty

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New York State Assembly passes budget with Internet sales tax proposal

Even in a week when New York's capital was shaken by scandal and the daily workings of legislators were thrust into an unprecedented state of uncertainty, the New York State Campaign for E-Fairness continued to make important strides.

On Wednesday, March 12, the same day that Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced his resignation, the New York State Assembly passed its budget for 2008 - 09, including the Internet Sales Tax provision, which would require remote, online retailers using New York residents to solicit sales in the state to collect sales and use taxes. The state Senate also passed its budget resolution for 2008 - 09, though the Senate budget did not contain the Internet Sales Tax provision.

"Obviously, the week's past events have been a shock to most everyone, including the state's legislators and business owners alike," said Oren Teicher, ABA COO. "Yet, despite what has transpired these past few days, it is crucial that we not let it interfere with our determination to achieve e-fairness in New York. While the government may be in a state of flux, what has not changed is the tremendous opportunity that stands before us. With the Internet Sales Tax provision now in both the Executive and Assembly budgets, we inch ever closer to success."

Teicher stressed that, as the Assembly and Senate seek to resolve the budget, it is critical for New York booksellers to call on their legislators to keep the Internet Sales Tax provision intact --and in the budget. "We've heard that legislators are seeking to turn the page on this week's events, starting with the timely passing of this year's budget. So we must act now."

It is expected that negotiations to resolve the budgets will begin this week, and legislators are still holding firm to the April 1 budget deadline, so it is more important than ever that booksellers contact their legislators regarding the Internet Sales Tax provision.

ABA has created new template letters reflecting the latest developments regarding the budget and the Internet Sales Tax provision that New York booksellers are urged to send to their assemblyperson and senator. The letter to the assemblyperson thanks him or her for keeping the executive budget intact and urges a firm stand on keeping the Internet Sales Tax proposal in the final budget. The letter to a bookseller's state senator urges him or her to reinstate the Internet Sales Tax provision. Booksellers who have already written their legislators are being asked to write them again.

Booksellers can find their assemblyperson here; and find their senator here. ABA also asks booksellers to send copies of their letters to ABA Public Policy Liaison Dave Grogan at dave@bookweb.org.

Lobbying Day Postponed

Because of the current uncertainty in Albany, ABA has elected to postpone its planned series of lobbying events -- originally scheduled for March 19 in Albany, New York -- to a date to be determined. In the meantime, the association is recommending that booksellers meet with their legislators or their legislators' staff at their local district offices. --David Grogan