Sales Tax Legislation Affecting Online Retailers Could Pass Later this Year

Sales tax legislation that would eliminate the perceived competitive advantage that online sellers have had over traditional brick-and-mortar retailers could pass Congress by the close of this year.

The Senate’s Marketplace Fairness Act (S.1832) and its House companion, the Marketplace Equity Act (H.R. 3179), aim to give states the authority to collect sales tax from online and catalog retailers (i.e. “remote” sellers), provided that states simplify their tax codes to make it easier for retailers to collect sales tax at the time of transaction.

Since the 1992 Supreme Court ruling Quill v. North Dakota, states have not been able to require retailers to collect sales tax unless the seller has a physical presence in the state. Under the Marketplace Fairness and Marketplace Equity Acts, states seeking the authority to collect sales tax from remote retailers can sign onto the SSUTA or adopt the simplification mandates included in the bill.

The legislation has received strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, as well as widespread support from 55 national trade associations, 95 state and local trade associations, and 85 companies, including online retailers Amazon.com, Buy.com, Walmart, and Sears Holdings Corp.  Critics–including the Electronic Retailing Association and a coalition of e-commerce and online companies–argue that the bill would allow states to impose a new tax that would be burdensome on e-commerce and consumers due to variations between tax jurisdictions.  They argue that the simplification of state tax laws called for in the bill will not alleviate burdens nor will the potential tax revenue stream (estimated at well below one percent of total state and local tax revenue) justify the expense of implementation.

Because e-commerce retailers do not collect sales tax, the price of a product purchased online is often cheaper than the price of the same product at a brick-and-mortar store.  This disparity impacts both retailers and their vendors as buyers for a physical store try to remain price competitive by requesting vendors to lower their price for the product.

This post was originally written by the Toy Industry Association and published at ToyAssociation.org. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

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