Senate votes to support Marketplace Fairness Act, 75-24

March 27, 2013

On Friday, the Senate debated the merits of online sales tax and the Marketplace Fairness Act. The debate was thrilling, and we are proud to provide (courtesy of C-SPAN) a complete stream of the 42-minute debate right here.

After the debate, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to support the amendment to the Senate’s 2014 budget resolution. The final vote was 75-24.

So what’s next for the bill? Your guess is as good as ours, but we trust Congress can finally get this done.

Also, for those of you who are as geeky about this topic as we are, here’s the full 63-minute “pre-debate” that occurred one day earlier, on March 21st.

Senate Debate March 21, 2013

Sen. Boozman (R-AR) voices support for the Main Street Fairness Act

August 16, 2011
Senator Boozman (R-AR)

Talk Politics Segment: Senator Boozman supports online sales tax collection

Senator John Boozman (R-AR) gave an interview with Roby Brock on Talk Politics on Monday and said that he believed online retailers should collect sales tax, just as bricks-and-mortar retailers do. For Senator Boozman, it seems to be an issue of fairness and states’ rights:

[Where I live] sales tax is about 9 percent . . . and so when [bricks-and-mortar retailers] start out 9 percent behind [because they have to collect sales tax and online retailers don’t], then you’ve got problems. . . .

When you look at the trajectory, online sales are heading just upwards as quickly as they can do. If you’d asked me this question ten years ago I’d [have said] no, leave the internet alone, let them establish themselves. Right now they’re very much established, and so I don’t think it’s fair. . . .

I think it’s a states’ rights issue. I think the states ought to be able to allow [online sales tax collection], and I think . . . we need to make it such that the states can . . . enforce it, and then go from there. But I do think right now it’s not a level playing field, and you look at rural America, it’s very very difficult right now with the economy that we’ve got, but when you have this tremendous inequity it makes it that much harder.

We couldn’t agree more. States should be able to determine for themselves whether and how sales tax should be collected on online purchases, just like any other kind of purchase, and online and bricks-and-mortar retailers should all play by the same rules.

However, we are puzzled but encouraged by one statement Senator Boozman made: that he didn’t really like the Durbin bill (the Main Street Fairness Act) but would be working with Senator Durbin. We hope this signals a renewed sense of compromise to achieve a common good.

You can see the interview for yourself here; the comments on online sales tax collection begin at 19:12 and last just under two minutes. A summary of the interview is available here.

Bravo, Senator Boozman! Thank you for having the courage to speak out on this important issue and for committing to help protect states rights and local businesses.

Senator Durbin expresses support for collecting sales tax on internet sales

January 21, 2011

According to this article in the Naperville Sun, Senator Dick Durbin is ready to co-sponsor a bill to address the issue of uncollected sales tax on internet purchases. The article states that at a recent meeting between Durbin and Illinois business people, there was a common interest in working on a uniform tax for internet sales, which owners of traditional brick-and-mortar stores said would level the playing field between their businesses and online competitors.

The article quotes Senator Durbin as saying, “I cannot understand how people can buy so many things over the Internet and have them shipped to Naperville, Illinois, and use your streets, your police, your traffic lights, your fire protection, your curbs and gutters, without paying a penny in sales tax to the city of Naperville.” Illinois, he said, is losing between $150 million and $1 billion in sales tax revenue on out-of-state Internet sales. “You are losing so much revenue in this process that should be coming back to the community.”

The article did not mention the Main Street Fairness Act, but it would be most efficient for Senator Durbin to pick up the ball on this bill, which was introduced into the House last year but was not voted upon. The senator’s public statements on the issue caps off a week of support and discussion at the city, state, and federal levels, as we have been covering here on the blog.