Policies & Issues

Sales tax fairness resurfaces in Senate

Policies & IssuesMar 12, 2015

Sales tax fairness resurfaces in Senate

After being passed by the Senate in 2013 but stumbling in the House, a bill designed to force online-only retailers to collect sales tax in every state is back. 

Washington--After being passed by the Senate in 2013 but stumbling in the House, a bill designed to force online-only retailers to collect sales tax in every state is back. 

On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015, a bill virtually identical to the previous version of the bill the U.S. Senate passed in 2013. That bill ultimately ended up dying in committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

The act would allow all states to require the collection of sales tax already owed under state law by out-of-state businesses (meaning businesses without a physical presence in that state), instead of relying on consumers to remit those taxes to the state. 

Sales tax fairness is a huge issue for small business owners, especially jewelers. The lack of sales tax on all online purchases forces brick-and-mortar retailers to deal with showrooming, people who come into their store and get information about a product only to later buy it online where, in the case of fine jewelry, they save hundreds or thousands of dollars by not paying sales tax. 

Jewelers of America President David Bonaparte said in a news release that the legislation “keeps momentum on this critical issue alive.” 

Susan Posnock, JA’s director of public affairs and education, told National Jeweler Thursday that the House is working on a sales tax fairness bill as well and while Congress might not reach an agreement on the issue this year, she expects a bill to get through in the next two years. 

“We see it as a positive regardless of whether this is ultimately the bill that passes,” Posnock said of the introduction of the latest sales tax fairness legislation. “We see it as a positive in terms of keeping (the issue) front and center.” 

Retailers that would like to speak out about sales tax fairness can do so through JA’s Legislative Advocacy Center

Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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