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Republicans Search for Path to Online Sales Tax Legislation

Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 11:51 AM

House Republicans are seeking a way to address the ability of Internet retailers and catalog companies to avoid collecting state sales taxes, a situation brick-and-mortar stores say is unfair to them.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said he wants to start “winnowing” proposals to see what Congress might be able to enact.

“The committee is sympathetic to the plight of traditional retailers,” Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, said today as he opened a hearing in Washington. “It is serious about searching for a solution that the various parties can accept.”

The Senate last year passed legislation to have states require out-of-state Internet retailers and catalog companies to collect sales taxes. The measure passed May 7 in a 69-27 bipartisan vote.

Addressing the issue is a priority for retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., along with state officials who say they lose as much as $23 billion in revenue a year when consumers buy goods from out-of-state sellers and don’t pay sales taxes.

Amazon.com Inc., the largest Internet-based retailer, supported the Senate bill. It is expanding into more states to speed delivery, which means it will collect taxes anyway.

EBay Inc. and anti-tax groups oppose the Senate bill, as do representatives from states without sales taxes.

Goodlatte has rejected the Senate measure, maintaining that it is too complex and that retailers would face audits from states where they have no representation. He released principles for a bill last year, though he hasn’t set a timetable for writing or considering legislation.

Representative John Conyers of Michigan, the top Democrat on the committee, said he would prefer to start amending and voting on the Senate bill.

“I welcome the opportunity to hear workable alternative proposals,” he said. “This issue is a prime opportunity for all of us to work on a bipartisan basis.”

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House Republicans are seeking a way to address the ability of Internet retailers and catalog companies to avoid collecting state sales taxes, a situation brick-and-mortar stores say is unfair to them.
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Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 11:51 AM
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