According to this AP article, Idaho’s Governor Otter restated his support for online sales tax collection last Friday in an address given from his office.
Governor Otter joins many other lawmakers in voicing his support for online sales tax collection. And we’re pleased to note that despite the press’s characterization of the GOP as against online sales tax collection, Governor Otter is the latest in a long line of Republican politicians who publicly support it, including U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bob Corker (R-TN) and John Boozman (R-AR), Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, Maine Governor Paul LePage, and many local lawmakers, such as Texas State Representative John Otto, Indiana State Senator Luke Kenley, and Florida State Senator Evelyn Lynn.
We also found the last two lines of the AP article interesting:
House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, who accompanied Otter as he addressed reporters on the Capitol’s second floor, reiterated his opposition Friday.
Moyle says Congress should take action first.
We’re thrilled to see that even those who oppose local action on online sales tax collection are not opposed to the basic principle—they just acknowledge that local action isn’t enough. Given the fact that this issue deals with interstate commerce, the (dormant) Commerce Clause applies, which means that only Congress is authorized to change the rules and limits established by the Supreme Court in Bellas Hess (1967) and Quill (1992). Those cases said that retailers without a physical presence in a state were not required to collect sales tax for that state (although they in no way suggested that tax would not be legitimately due).
Local and state laws cannot supersede that precedent. In order for their online sales tax collection laws to have any real effect, states need Congress to pass a law granting states the option to require online retailers to collect sales tax—this option simply isn’t available to them today (at least, not without significant legal challenges, as we have seen over the past few years). It’s for that reason, as well as many others, that we support the Marketplace Fairness Act.
Hopefully Governor Otter will channel his support and urge Idaho Senators Mike Crapo (R) and James Risch (D) to join the other fourteen bipartisan sponsors of the Marketplace Fairness Act and work to pass the bill this year.