Online sales tax bill passes Senate, faces uncertain future in House

The U.S. Senate on Monday voted 69-27 to pass S. 743, the Marketplace Fairness Act. The bill, which would allow states to collect taxes from online sales, sailed through the Senate with bipartisan support but faces a more complicated path in the House.

The Senate bill and its House companion, H.R 684, seek to end sales tax disparity by giving states the authority to require remote and online sellers to collect sales and use tax at the point of purchase.

The bill now heads to the House Judiciary Committee, where the chairman, U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has gone on record with reservations to the bill and indicated the committee will make changes to the Senate-passed bill.

The legislation’s opponents refer to the collection of online sales tax as a new tax; however, it is merely the enforcement and collection of a tax that is already owed. There simply is not a level playing field between brick-and-mortar retailers, particularly small businesses, and out-of-state retailers, who are not required to pay the same taxes.

Governor Robert Bentley is supportive of the legislation and has urged Alabama’s congressional delegation to support it.

The president has said he will sign the bill should it make it to his desk.

Passage of this legislation is a priority of the BCA.

-Nancy Hewston