In advance of today’s hearing before the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary on "Exploring Alternative Solutions on the Internet Sales Tax Issue," the two largest retail trade associations, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the National Retail Federation, urged lawmakers to level the playing field between local retailers and remote sellers.

"As retailing evolves and Internet sales become a more prominent portion of total retail sales, it is critical that Congress address the sales tax collection discrimination that exists between brick-and-mortar and retailers," said NRF senior v-p David French, who estimated that the price advantage could be as much as 10%. "Different retailers have different strategies for going to market, but one feature is beyond a retailer’s control: only some competitors are compelled by the government to collect sales taxes."

Bill Hughes, senior v-p of government affairs at RILA noted, "A sale is a sale. Whether it takes place online or at a local business, the same rules should apply online as they do on Main Street. Common sense would dictate that if a product is purchased online, the retailer should collect and remit sales tax to the customer’s state, just as is the case when a customer goes to a store in person."

The hearing follows the release of a series of principles on a solution to the issue facing Main Street retailers by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). Last year the Senate passed legislation to allow states to require sales tax collection.