Senate Introduces “The Main Street Fairness Act”

August 2, 2011

Amazon has been creating headlines in California recently, as the online retailer filed paperwork last month to start campaigning for an initiative to overturn recent state legislation that forces Amazon to collect sales taxes on items purchased by California residents. Amazon’s opposition to the law has created a stand-off between Amazon and many brick-and-mortar stores, which feel that Amazon has an unfair advantage in the state since it is not collecting taxes. While the stand-off is still present within California, both types of business have found it easy to get behind recent legislation proposed by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).

Earlier this week, Durbin introduced legislation called, “The Main Street Fairness Act,” which establishes a nationwide requirement that forces Amazon, and other online retailers to collect each state’s respective sales tax on behalf of the consumer, just as all brick-and-mortar stores do. While Amazon has opposed state-specific online tax legislation, due to the additional complexity that would be added to collecting sales taxes, it does support this nationwide system. Amazon’s Paul Misener, vice president for global public policy, said has long supported a simple nationwide system of state and local sales tax collection, evenhandedly applied to all sellers, no matter their business model, location or level of remote sales. To this end, I am writing to thank you for your bill that would allow states that sufficiently simplify their rules to require the collection of sales tax by out-of-state sellers.

Many brick-and-mortar stores, such as Sears, are also supporting the bill, which will help states collect more revenue while taking the burden of self-reporting sales and use taxes off of consumers. Supporters of the bill also claim that it will help level the playing field between online and brick-and-mortar retailers across America.

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