In a vote of 69 to 27 yesterday evening, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to allow states to collect taxes from online sellers that do $1 million or more in gross sales annually. The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 (S.743) now moves to the U.S. House of Representatives where passage is less certain.
“We are grateful that the U.S. Senate has done the right thing and is standing up for Main Street retailers by passing the Marketplace Fairness Act,” said ABA CEO Oren Teicher, who thanked the bill’s sponsors, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Michael Enzi (R-WY), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), for introducing the legislation. “This victory is the direct result of the tireless work of thousands of booksellers nationwide, who, year after year, have advocated for sales tax fairness. Recognizing that this fight is far from over, importantly, today we are one very important step closer to leveling the playing field for Main Street retailers.”
“The retail industry—the largest private sector employer—is rapidly changing and evolving,” noted National Retail Federation board chairman Stephen I. Sadove. “Retailers compete for customers on many different levels, distribution channels, and fronts, including service and selection, but they cannot compete on sales tax. Congress needs to address this sales tax disparity and allow retailers to compete freely and fairly. Retailers of all shapes, sizes and channels deserve a level playing field.”
The Retail Industry Leaders Association, with more than 200 members that together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, also welcomed the vote, which was more than two to one in favor of Marketplace Fairness. “The Senate’s overwhelmingly bipartisan passage of this legislation foreshadows the end of the special treatment of big online businesses at the expense of retailers on Main Street,” said Bill Hughes, senior v-p for government affairs. “After such a resounding vote in the Senate, we look forward to a constructive debate in the House to level the playing field for all retailers this year.”
If approved by the House, President Obama has said he will sign the bill into law, which would likely take affect in early 2014.