Small Businesses Cheer Introduction of Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act [5]

On Thursday, July 17, in a letter sent to every member of the U.S. Senate, Advocates for Independent Business [7] (AIB), a coalition of trade associations and other organizations representing locally owned, independent businesses, urged congressional support for the Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act (MITFA). The legislation, which authorizes states to pass e-fairness legislation requiring remote retailers to collect and remit sales tax, was introduced in the Senate on Tuesday, July 15, by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Mark Pryor (D-AR).

“Our member retailers simply cannot wait for another legislative session to address an issue that is critical for both small and large Main Street retailers alike,” said the letter from AIB members, including the American Booksellers Association. “MITFA would not institute a new tax, nor would it burden small businesses with extra tax paperwork. Instead, it would level the playing field. Main Street retail stores give back to their communities in ways that out-of-state retailers do not: We provide local jobs; we employ local services; we remit sales tax revenue that pays for roads and first responders, among other services. Yet the current system penalizes Main Street retailers by providing out-of-state e-commerce retailers with an unfair sales tax.”

ABA and AIB member stores should feel free to adapt the letter (below [8]) to e-mail to their own members of Congress.

Last year, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the Marketplace Fairness Act [9] (MFA). However, with little progress on the bill occurring in the U.S. House of Representatives, MFA sponsors decided to add the e-fairness legislation to an extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act, a law that prohibits states from levying taxes on Internet access, which is set to expire on November 1. On Tuesday, the House passed its own extension of the law, the Permanent Internet Freedom Act, which would extend the tax ban permanently.

“The American Booksellers Association is grateful to Senators Enzi, Durbin, Alexander, Heitkamp, Collins, and Pryor for their strong support of e-fairness, and their work to level the playing field,” said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. “We urge Congress to pass MITFA in this legislative session.”

If MITFA passes the Senate, it will then have to be reconciled in conference committee with the House version of the bill. At that point, it is unclear whether opponents of the MFA amendment would attempt to remove it from the legislation.

For his part, Sen. Durbin expressed concern about how the House would respond to MITFA. “The House is always a problem,” Durbin said, as reported by Roll Call [10]. “We have tried repeatedly, repeatedly for meetings with House members to talk about finding common ground. They have canceled every meeting. So this is our approach. We want to join Marketplace Fairness with Internet Tax Freedom. I hope we can do that on the floor of the Senate and send it back to the House.”

MITFA allows states and local governments, if they so choose, to enforce existing state and local sales and use tax laws — so long as they simplify sales and use tax administration and collection, and exempt small online retailers from collection requirements.

MITFA would level the playing field for Main Street businesses that are currently working at a five percent to 10 percent competitive disadvantage to remote retailers that are not collecting and remitting sales tax to states. MITFA would provide a pathway for states and localities across the country to collect an estimated $23 billion annually in tax revenue to balance their budgets by recouping taxes that are already owed.

Co-founded by the American Booksellers Association, AIB [11] is a coalition of 14 trade associations and other organizations that represent locally owned, independent businesses serving a consumer market. AIB’s member organizations collectively represent more than 100,000 small businesses that employ approximately 600,000 people and pay in excess of $10 billion in annual payroll.


AIB Letter to the U.S. Senate

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the Advocates for Independent Business (AIB), a coalition of 14 trade associations and other organizations that represent locally owned, independent businesses serving a consumer market, we are writing to express our strong support for the Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act (MITFA). AIB’s member organizations collectively represent more than 100,000 small businesses that employ approximately 600,000 people and pay in excess of $10 billion in annual payroll.

MITFA allows states and local governments, if they so choose, to enforce existing state and local sales and use tax laws — so long as they simplify sales and use tax administration and collection, and exempt small online retailers from collection requirements. This bill would level the playing field for Main Street businesses that are currently working at a five percent to 10 percent competitive disadvantage versus remote retailers that are not collecting and remitting sales tax to states. MITFA would provide a pathway for states and localities across the country to collect an estimated $23 billion annually in uncollected tax revenue to balance their budgets by recouping taxes that are already owed.

It is crucial that sales tax fairness pass in this legislative session. Our member retailers simply cannot wait for another legislative session to address an issue that is critical for both small and large Main Street retailers alike.

Sales tax fairness would not institute a new tax, nor would it burden small businesses with extra tax paperwork. Instead, it would level the playing field. Main Street retail stores give back to their communities in ways that out-of-state retailers do not: We provide local jobs; we employ local services; we remit sales tax revenue that pays for roads and first responders, among other services. Yet the current system penalizes Main Street retailers by providing out-of-state e-commerce retailers with an unfair sales tax advantage.

Our member stores, and other retailers, should not have to face another holiday season without a solution to this problem. The time has come to act. The solution is clear, so let’s delay no longer. The failure to act will have a massive impact on the overall American economy, with the possible loss of many thousands of retail jobs.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Advocates for Independent Business:

  • American Booksellers Association
  • American Independent Business Alliance
  • American Specialty Toy Retailing Association
  • Independent Running Retailers Association
  • Independent We Stand
  • National Bicycle Dealers Association
  • North American Retail Hardware Association
  • Real Diaper Industry Association
  • Alliance for Independent Media Stores & Record Store Day