Tags: Branstad | LePage | online | tax

GOP Governors Push Online Sales Tax

Wednesday, 19 Jun 2013 11:26 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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A trio of Republican governors has pledged to lower taxes in their states if the House approves a federal online sales tax measure, but some conservative lawmakers say they are wary of their campaign.

The governors — Terry Branstad of Iowa, Paul LePage of Maine and Scott Walker of Wisconsin — all have promised to cut taxes in their states if the House passes the bill which has already sailed through the Senate, reports The Hill.

The Marketplace Fairness Act easily cleared the Democratic-controlled Senate in May, but it's expected to have a more difficult time with conservatives in the House.

Some House Republicans are on the fence, but many freshmen say the governors' push won't move them.

"Gov. Walker’s a great leader, but in general, I’m always a bit skeptical when somebody promises a tax decrease in exchange for a tax increase,” said Montana Rep. Steve Daines.

In addition, Wisconsin Rep. Reid Ribble, who says he's a "big supporter" of Walker, said he is unconvinced about his pledge to cut taxes.

"It wouldn't surprise me that state legislators and state governors would like to see it because they view it as a revenue source that they've not been able to tap into," said Ribble.

Not all the skeptics are newcomers. House Speaker John Boehner says he is concerned that forcing small businesses to collect sales taxes from around the country would be too difficult.

Further, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia outlined a series of concerns, but says he's open to considering the legislation.

Some lawmakers say the governors' pledge may help convince House Republicans to pass the bill.

Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King said Branstad has a good history of lowering taxes, so "it's a positive" that he has made the pledge. King in the past has called for a national sales tax, and says he is sympathetic to the online sales-tax measure.

The Market Fairness Act allows states to force U.S. retailers to collect sales tax for online purchases made by their residents, even if the business isn't physically located in their states. Currently, states can collect only from companies located within their own borders.

Supporters say the plan corrects an advantage online retailers have over traditional businesses, and could bring in an estimated $23 billion in additional revenue for cash-strapped state and local governments.

The bill is backed by the bipartisan National Governors Association.

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