Sales Tax Fairness Hearing Rescheduled Due to Snowstorm

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The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary hearing on sales tax fairness legislation scheduled for Tuesday, March 4, was postponed due to a snowstorm that effectively shut down Washington, D.C., on March 3. The hearing postponement and the snowstorm, which closed Reagan National Airport, forced the American Booksellers Association to cancel its Advocacy Day planned for March 4. The sales tax hearing has been rescheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 12.

The committee hearing is the first formal step in the House of Representatives’ legislative process. It officially sets the ball in motion for the House to come up with its own version of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which passed the Senate with wide bipartisan support in May 2013, and to bring that legislation to a vote in the House.

The postponement of the hearing to March 12 does provide some extra time for booksellers to advocate in support of sales tax fairness. “While it is not logistically possible to reschedule our Advocacy Day for next Wednesday, booksellers can still make their views known to their representatives on this very important issue,” said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. “Indeed, this is a moment when independent retailers can have a significant and lasting impact on the legislative process. Please let your member of Congress know that you support sales tax fairness. We urge you to e-mail or call them today.”

In advance of the sales tax hearing, ABA had been asking booksellers to show their support for sales tax fairness by providing testimonials, signing a coalition letter, and reaching out to their lawmakers. Because of the postponement of the House Judiciary Committee hearing, there is still time for booksellers to take important steps in support of e-fairness.

ABA is asking booksellers to do the following three things:

  • Provide ABA with written or video testimonials about how sales tax inequity impacts your business and explain why you are calling for e-fairness.  Please send your testimonial to ABA Senior Public Policy Analyst David Grogan at [email protected] with “Testimonial” in the subject line.
  • Add your bookstore’s name as a signatory to the letter embedded below, which the Marketplace Fairness Coalition will then send to Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte. To add your name to the letter, reply to Grogan at [email protected] with your name, store name, and address, and include “Signatory” in the subject line.
  • Reach out to your member of Congress and schedule a face-to-face meeting with him or her at the local, district office.

Booksellers with questions should contact Grogan at [email protected] or via phone at (800) 637-0037, ext. 7562.


The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
House Judiciary Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Goodlatte:
We are writing to urge you to ensure fairness in today’s retail marketplace and finally resolve the serious inequity impacting local economies, community retailers, and the jobs they support. As small-business owners, we appreciate your leadership on this issue via your “Basic Principles on Remote Sales Tax,” released in September 2013.  We believe now is the time to move forward with legislation that will level the playing field for all retailers.
As business owners who are active in the community, we are dedicated to closing the online sales tax loophole that hurts community-based businesses, and we are calling on Congress to finally settle this issue and stand up for a free marketplace in which all businesses are given a honest chance to compete.
It has been more than 20 years since the Supreme Court ruled to exempt catalog sellers from collecting remote sales taxes, leaving it to Congress to revisit and resolve the issue should the need arise.  At that time, no one could have foreseen the rise of e-commerce and the impact it would have on the retail marketplace, nor the technological advances that have made remote sales tax collection quick and easy.  However, times have changed — as has our technology and consumer habits.
As small-business owners, we embrace competition and the challenge of attracting customers in the digital age, but we ask that Congress end the tax advantage currently afforded our online competitors.  Let us compete on true price, service, and selection without government’s thumb on the scale. It’s time to update our sales tax laws to reflect the economic and technological realities of the 21st century.
Passed with broad bipartisan support in the Senate in early 2013, the Marketplace Fairness Act marked a significant step toward ensuring all businesses — online or offline, large or small — play by the same set of rules.  While we understand your desire to pursue alternative ideas, we hope that the House of Representatives and your committee will move quickly and judiciously in 2014 to level the retail playing field. True free market competition will not only support America’s local businesses but will also strengthen our economy and provide lower taxes for everyone.
Again, we appreciate your efforts to build consensus and consider ways in which to modernize and update state tax codes to reflect new technologies and a dynamically changing economy.  We look forward to legislative action and we will be constantly monitoring your efforts and those of your colleagues on this critically important issue.  Please let us know if we can be of any assistance.