Idaho governor supports online sales tax collection

April 12, 2012
Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter

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 HaslamMaine 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.

Idaho Legislation to join Streamlined dies

March 19, 2010

SAD UPDATE – March 19, 2010 – Idaho House Revenue and Taxation Committee fails to agree. Yesterday they voted 9 YEA to 9 NEA – so… No action. Business Week is reporting that several “conservative anti-tax Republicans” in the House (including Majority Leader Mike Moyle from Star and Rep. Phil Hart from Athol)…

“are suspicious of efforts to modify Idaho’s laws”

We are certainly not constitutional lawyers, but… isn’t that their job? Very frustrating! I guess we can all try again in Idaho next year, or…

Now Listen up voters and legislators, this is getting serious! By failing to act now, our federal legislators are actually encouraging a more difficult interstate commerce environment (albeit passively), as so many states are now creating widely varying laws regarding interpretation of nexus, out-of-state reporting obligations, and thresholds for state-by-state registration requirements.

Please, please, please call and/or write your legislators to encourage them to introduce and pass the Main Street Fairness Act so that each state doesn’t have to make this stuff up as they go (and suffer the cost of resulting litigation). It is now time for our United States Congress and House of Representatives to act, before more states invent still more laws (like CO’s remote reporting, or NY’s Amazon Taxes).

UPDATE March 10, 2010 – As covered by the NewYork Times, the Idaho House of Representives’ Revenue and Taxation Committee today voted 10 (in favor) to 8 (opposed) to introduce their own version of SB 1295, bringing Idaho one step closer to becoming a full Member State under the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. Way to go Idaho!

UPDATE March 2, 2010 – Idaho Senate has voted unanimously in support SB 1295! Now the bill is off to be reviewed by the Idaho House of Representatives’ Revenue and Taxation Committee (see update above).

(Originally published 2/3) Last week (on January 27th) Idaho Senator Mike Jorgensen (R-Hayden Lake) proposed Idaho Senate Bill 1295 (Here’s the complete SB 1295 and the related Statement of Purpose and Fiscal Notes to have Idaho join the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement!

Local Idaho journalist Sharon Fisher for the award-winning online news source NewWest.Net wrote about it first earlier today.

Go Idaho!

Here’s hoping those other states considering affiliate taxes tax note.

UPDATE: Business Week just picked up an article by John Miller of the Associated Press: “Tax cheats, others shorting Idaho $250 million.”