A few business owners aired concerns in a national conference call on Tuesday hosted by the Alliance for Main Street Fairness. They asked Republican lawmakers, particularly House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), to take swift action and pass the Marketplace Fairness Act—a bill that would require online retailers to collect sales tax from customers in all 50 states in America. The bill, which would exempt online retailers with less than $1 million in annual revenue, passed the Democrat-led Senate in May 2013. The House has yet to act on the matter.
“It’s time for them to move,” said Donnie Eatherly, owner of an auto-parts distributor in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, according to The Hill. “The House has sat idly by and done nothing.”
Many small retailers and local-business advocacy groups have called on Congress to take action on the Marketplace Fairness Act in recent months. They argue that online retailers have a huge advantage over locally owned brick-and-mortar businesses because online retailers are currently only required to collect sales tax in states where they have a physical presence. Local businesses have to collect sales tax from all of their customers.
Online retailers and many large retailers, on the other hand, have fought the Marketplace Fairness Act, saying collecting sales tax from customers scattered across the United States would place a huge administrative burden on them.
Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) suggested in late 2013 that the House may draft its own version of online sales tax legislation, but it has yet to do so.
In Virginia, local retailers are especially eager to see an online sales tax bill before the end of 2014. That’s because the state of Virginia plans to raise its gas tax on January 1 unless an Internet sales tax legislation gets passed.
Rex Solomon, a Houston-based jeweler, dismissed Senator Cruz’s contention that the Marketplace Fairness Act mostly helps giant retailers rather than small businesses. Rather, Solomon says he’s seen customers in his store buy diamonds online in order to avoid paying sales tax.
The Marketplace Fairness Act “does not support large corporations,” Solomon said in Tuesday’s conference call. “In fact, it helps us.”
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