Senate Votes Overwhelmingly in Favor of Marketplace Fairness Act

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On Friday, March 22, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved, by a vote of 75-24, a budget resolution amendment in support of sales tax fairness.

The Marketplace Fairness Act amendment supports states having the right to require remote retailers to collect and remit sales tax on purchases made in the state. The vote was a procedural move meant to test support for the Marketplace Fairness Act (S.336/H.R.684), a bill that was introduced in February by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Michael Enzi (R-WY), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). Supporters of sales tax fairness hailed the passage of the resolution as an important sign of strong legislative support for e-fairness.

The resolution’s approval dramatically increases the chances that S. 336 will come up for a vote in the Senate in this congressional session as part of a larger bill. The Marketplace Fairness Act would give states the authority to require remote retailers to collect and remit sales tax on purchases made by customers in their state, but only if the remote retailer does $1 million or more in gross out-of-state sales annually. The legislation would not require any state to enact sales tax collection for remote sales.

American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher said Friday’s vote was a significant push for e-fairness. “While this vote was procedural, it was nonetheless a big step forward in our campaign for sales tax fairness,” he said. “It clearly demonstrates that there is overwhelming, bipartisan legislative support for leveling the playing field for Main Street retailers. Importantly, this victory may now open the door to the passage of federal e-fairness legislation. This would never have come about without the unstinting and tireless work of independent booksellers nationwide. We are extremely grateful to our fellow trade associations who helped in supporting this bill, and the bill’s sponsors for their leadership and their support of Main Street retailers.”

“Tonight’s vote sends a strong message in favor of leveling the playing field for all businesses,” said Sen. Enzi in a statement. “For over two decades, Congress has ignored a growing disparity between local businesses and those who operate online or out-of-state. Local businesses invest in our communities and hire locally. The sales tax they collect goes toward the schools, roads, and law enforcement in our communities. Unfortunately, those outside of the state and online are not required to collect the sales tax owed on the products they sell, even if the state they are selling in requires it. It’s time we stop discriminating through the tax code and give states the right to enforce their own laws without having to get permission from Washington. I thank all of my colleagues who joined Senator Durbin, Senator Alexander, Senator Heitkamp,and me tonight and stood up for the Marketplace Fairness Act.”

The amendment was offered to the budget by Senator Durbin (for himself, and Senators Enzi, Alexander, Heitkamp, Blunt, Johnson of South Dakota, Boozman, Reed, Collins, Whitehouse, Rockefeller, Harkin, Cardin, Klobuchar, Franken, King, Levin, Pryor and Udall).