With state budget deadlines looming at the end of June and legislatures scrambling to complete their work, the Campaign for E-Fairness is urging booksellers to ramp up efforts in support of pending state legislation that would level the playing field for the collection of sales tax on online sales and ensure the equitable enforcement of existing Internet sales tax laws.
Rhode Island Moves a Step Closer
In Rhode Island, state lawmakers in the House debated late into the night on Wednesday, June 24, as they hammered out final approval of the 2010 budget. The budget included a provision that would clarify state law so that so that out-of-state retailers with online affiliates in Rhode Island would be required to collect and remit sales tax. At press time, it was expected that the budget would be voted on by the state Senate on Thursday, June 25, as reported by the Woonsocket Call.
"We are close to a significant victory in Rhode Island," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher, "but there are still hurdles to clear, and there's never been a more important time for indie booksellers in Rhode Island to contact their state senators to urge them to keep the Internet sales tax provision in the final, approved budget."
To help booksellers in this important advocacy outreach, NEIBA and ABA have prepared a template letter that booksellers can adapt and send to their legislators. Booksellers can find their Rhode Island senators here. ABA also asked booksellers to notify NEIBA and David Grogan, ABA public policy liaison, when they have sent their letters. This will help both NEIBA and ABA compile information to support their sales tax lobbying efforts.
Outreach to the Governor in California
This week, ABA President Michael Tucker of San Francisco's Books Inc. and ABA CEO Oren Teicher wrote to urge Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to support the Internet sales tax provision in the proposed California budget.
In their letter to the governor, Tucker and Teicher wrote: "The time for California to act is now. The results of sales tax inequity can be seen in the many empty storefronts on Main Streets throughout California. Sometimes, however, it doesn't result in a store closure, but in lost sales tax through decreased sales and lost income tax through job cuts. A downturn on Main Street creates a ripple effect that is felt throughout our state's economy. When out-of-state retailers with affiliates in our state shirk their responsibility to collect and remit sales tax, it hurts the state's entire economy, as well as undermines essential support for critical local services."
The letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger is just the latest move in the continuing campaign for e-fairness in California. Last week, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, and ABA again strongly urged California booksellers and other independent retailers to contact their state assemblymember and senator as soon as possible to ask them to support the Internet sales tax provision in the proposed California budget.
The groups provided a template letter that booksellers can adapt and send to their elected officials. They also asked that David Grogan, ABA public policy liaison, be notified when letters have been sent, to help compile information to support future lobbying efforts.
Connecticut Lawmakers Urged to Support E-Fairness
The New England Independent Booksellers Association and ABA this week urged Connecticut booksellers and other independent retailers to contact their state representative and senator as soon as possible to ask them to support the Internet sales tax provision in the proposed Connecticut budget.
NEIBA and ABA have provided a template letter that can be adapted and sent to Connecticut lawmakers, and to state Senator Eileen Daily, chair of the state Finance Committee, who has been a strong supporter of the Internet Sales Tax provision. In addition to e-mailing the letter or calling state legislators, NEIBA and ABA encouraged members to reach out to other like-minded independent retailers in their communities -- possibly through local independent business alliances or via Twitter followers and Facebook friends -- to ask them to join the e-fairness effort.
Initiatives are also underway in Hawaii and North Carolina:
Last week, ABA CEO Oren Teicher wrote to urge Gov. Linda Lingle to sign HB 1405, legislation that would clarify the state's general excise tax so that out-of-state retailers with online affiliates would be required to collect and remit sales tax. The legislation is modeled after the New York State bill that went into law last year.
Four North Carolina booksellers last week exhorted their bookseller colleagues to urge their state legislators and chairs of the state Senate and House of Representatives Conference Committees to support an Internet sales tax provision in the state's Appropriations Act of 2009.
In an e-mail to North Carolina booksellers, Sally Brewster of Park Road Books in Charlotte, Tom Campbell of The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, Linda Barrett Knopp of Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, and Nancy Olson of Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, wrote: "[The Internet sales tax provision] is great news for indie booksellers, but we need to make sure that this provision remains in the budget as the conference committee readies the bill for the governor's signature. Please join with us, SIBA, and ABA, in this important effort. We are writing to you as fellow booksellers because we believe that there exists a real opportunity for us to make a difference -- and we'd be remiss if we didn't stress this point."
To help booksellers in this important advocacy outreach, the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and ABA have prepared a template letter that booksellers can adapt and send to their senator, and representative, and House and Senate Conference Committee chairs. ABA and SIBA also ask booksellers to notify David Grogan, ABA public policy liaison, when they have sent their letter. This will help both SIBA and ABA compile information to support their sales tax lobbying efforts.