There was a lot of applause on February 14, when a group of 53 senators and representatives introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013. Associations representing cities, state legislatures and governors all released statements in support of the act. So did many retail organizations, such as the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association. But rare are the times that change is met with universal support.
The Dissenting Side
There are voices speaking out against the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013: Technet said the act would penalize entrepreneurs; the Heartland Institute said Marketplace Fairness was “anything but fair for the marketplace;” and eBay announced that it “opposes any attempt to impose Internet sales tax collection burdens on small Internet-enabled businesses.”
The Marketplace Fairness website itself lists The Heritage Foundation and eBay, Inc, as “opposed.”
Other dissenting voices:
The National Taxpayers Union (NTU), which boasts 362,000 members, “announced its continued, strong opposition to the so-called ‘Marketplace Fairness Act.'” In a wry nod to the Valentine’s Day introduction of the bill, NTU said the “Internet tax collection bill reads like a love letter to overzealous state revenue collectors, not like a piece of legislation designed to address ‘tax fairness.'”
The Direct Marketing Association expressed disappointment with the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, “which purports to simplify the American sales tax system, [but] actually expands it.”
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R) of New Hampshire has “vowed to continue the fight against federal legislation that would force online retailers to collect sales taxes for other jurisdictions in which they do not have a physical presence.” She’s working with Senator Ron Wyden (D) of Oregon “to reintroduce a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that no federal legislation should give states the authority to impose any new burdensome or unfair tax collecting requirements on Internet businesses and entrepreneurs.”
Montana Senator Max Baucus (D) has also expressed “concerns about the proposal.”
New Hampshire, Oregon and Montana do not have a general state sales tax.
Like wallflowers at a club unwilling to risk the dance floor and unwilling to just stay home, there are a handful of neutral and undecided organizations: ADO, National Federation of Independent Businesses, Verizon, AT&T, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, and the Council on State Taxation.
All in Favor?
Still, the list of businesses and trade associations — national, state and local — that have come out in favor of the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 is impressive. Amazon.com and Best Buy, Home Depot and Jo-Ann Stores, Sears and J.C. Penny, and numerous small businesses all support the federal legislation.
Take It Outside
Emotions run high around this issue. Some folks feel allowing remote sales tax collection is essential to level the playing field for Main Street businesses. Others feel it would hurt business and economic expansion. Before this is all over, sleeves may be rolled up and a few folks may step outside.
Is your business prepared for online sales tax?