UPDATED: 8/1 @ 21:00 – The GPO just released the PDF : 112th Congress – S.1452 (the Main Street Fairness Act)
Yesterday, Senator Richard Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip, introduced Senate Bill 1452 before Congress.
This is what the Honorable Senator Durbin had to say upon introduction:
“Level the Playing Field.”
When I ask small business owners what they would like the federal government to do to help them thrive, the answer I most frequently hear is, “level the playing field.”
It may be a cliché, but there’s truth to it. Most small businesspeople don’t want a government handout. They don’t want special treatment. They just want to be able to compete fairly against other businesses.
That is why I am introducing the Main Street Fairness Act.
If you are a small business owner in Peoria or Springfield or Alton, you compete against neighboring businesses down the street and, increasingly, with sellers on the internet. The businesses down the street have to collect the same state sales taxes that you do. But many internet sellers don’t.
That means internet sellers have a built-in price advantage. That isn’t fair, and it’s not a level playing field.
The Main Street Fairness Act would address that. The bill would give congressional endorsement to the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, which 45 states and the District of Columbia created years ago to help make it feasible for businesses selling online to collect state and local sales taxes already owed.
Why is this agreement necessary? The Supreme Court ruled in the early ’90s that the maze of current sales tax rules and rates was too complex to expect online retailers to comply. The states worked together to address that problem.
The Main Street Fairness Act says that any state that wants to do so can require online retailers to collect the same sales taxes that Main Street businesses collect, provided that small online retailers are exempt, online retailers are compensated for any start-up administrative costs associated with collecting sales taxes, and all retailers are treated equally regarding sales tax collection.
Let me be as clear as I can on one point: this bill is NOT a tax increase.
It doesn’t amend the Internal Revenue Code in any way. It simply provides states the option to require all retailers to collect the sales taxes that are already owed.
The Main Street Fairness Act provides two other big benefits.
First, consumers will no longer be asked to itemize the sales taxes they owe from their online purchases on their year-end tax forms. Few consumers comply with the law today—most don’t know they should—but the Main Street Fairness Act would eliminate the need to do so.
Second, state and local governments would collect taxes that are already owed.
It is no secret that many states and cities, including the State of Illinois and local governments across my state, are struggling to balance their budgets.
The State of Illinois estimates that we lose as much as $153 million each year in unpaid taxes on internet sales alone.
Passing the Main Street Fairness Act would help state and local governments balance their budgets without cutting spending or raising new taxes.
The Main Street Fairness Act is supported by the National Governors’ Association, National Conference on State Legislatures, Governing Board of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, National Retail Federation, International Council of Shopping Centers, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts.
The Main Street Fairness Act will level the playing field for our small businesses. I urge its passage.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.