UPDATED: 7/31 @ 0:00 – The GPO just released the PDF : 112th Congress – H.R. 2701 (the Main Street Fairness Act)
Although the Senate’s Main Street Fairness Act has been receiving the lion’s share of attention, the House of Representatives had its own (identical) version of the bill introduced yesterday.
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) introduced H.R. 2701 along with his cosponsors Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC).
Here’s what Conyers was quoted as saying in a press release issued by Sen. Durbin, sponsor of the Senate bill:
“I am pleased to join my colleagues Senator Durbin, Congressman Welch and Congressman Shuler in introducing the Main Street Fairness Act,” said Conyers. “This bill will level the playing field for local businesses by ensuring that online retailers collect the same sales taxes that brick-and-mortar retailers already do. This will help our state and local governments avoid devastating layoffs and cuts to essential services vital to the well-being of our local communities.”
The press release is worth reading for the quotes from other lawmakers, as well as business leaders.
We were interested to see the approach taken by the politicians quoted in the press release. We have been particularly excited about how the bill makes it easier for small businesses to collect sales tax; our TaxCloud merchants have let us know how important that is to them. But the lawmakers are thinking about their constituents back home—the ones whose Main Street stores are suffering in this economy and who are seeing their libraries and parks close for lack of funds:
“Our bill levels the playing field to give Main Street businesses a fighting chance,” said Welch. “When a consumer can walk into a store, try out a product and then go home and buy it online without paying sales tax, Main Street businesses and downtowns lose. Our bill will level the playing field and bring much-needed fairness, strengthen our Main Street businesses, create jobs and revitalize our downtowns.” . . .
“Over the years, Main Street businesses in South Dakota have struggled to compete with internet vendors who skirt sales tax rules, which leaves brick-and-mortar businesses at a competitive disadvantage and state governments losing billions in uncollected sales taxes,” said [South Dakota Senator Tim] Johnson. “The Main Street Fairness Act will help support businesses in our state and also bring in $30 to $40 million in lost sales tax revenue at a time when important programs are being cut left and right. Governors across the country, including South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, support this commonsense legislation that will streamline collection rules and improve compliance.”
“Rhode Island businesses and workers suffer from an unfair tax disparity that harms many local small businesses and benefits large out-of-state e-retailers. This bill would correct that inequity and help Main Street businesses compete. It has broad support from both mom and pop shops and large businesses like Amazon.com and at a time when states like Rhode Island are struggling with their budgets this bill would be a boost,” said [Rhode Island Senator Jack] Reed.
We’re glad to see DC legislators acting on behalf of those they represent and working to help their home states, particularly in this troubled economy. We hope, and expect, to see more legislators joining those who already support the House and Senate bills in the coming days.