|Wed July 28 2010 028:46:54|
eBay Rallies Sellers against Sales Tax Legislation
By: Ina Steiner
|Brick-and-mortar retailers are locked in a battle with online retailers over sales tax collection, and eBay is now galvanizing its base of online merchants and shoppers to influence the outcome. The online marketplace sent emails to users this week asking them to sign a petition opposing the new Main Street Fairness Act that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this month. |
According to eBay, HR 5660 would be extremely burdensome and costly to small online retailers, and said it was working very hard to stop the bill from becoming law.
However, retailers have always had to collect sales tax if they had a physical presence in a state with sales tax. Organizations like the Jewelers of America, a national trade association for jewelry retailers, said it welcomed the introduction of the Main Street Fairness Act, saying it would "close an Internet sales tax loophole that has hurt traditional jewelry businesses."
The Main Street Fairness Act was introduced by Massachusetts representative Bill Delahunt on July 1, who said the bill was designed to help states "retrieve billions in sales tax revenues that are owed but currently going uncollected while providing long overdue relief to Main Street businesses by restoring fairness and competition to the marketplace."
eBay's petition against the legislation that it wants its users to sign reads:
Dear Member of Congress:
As your constituent and one of the 82 million registered eBay users in the US, I'm asking you not to impose any new sales tax laws on the Internet.
The Supreme Court decided that most small businesses, like the majority of those operating on eBay, don't need to collect sales taxes from out-of-state customers. This decision was made because it would be an unfair and costly burden for small businesses to collect sales taxes for 15,000 tax jurisdictions in 45 states.
eBay sellers, like many other small business retailers, would be directly impacted by any new Internet sales tax system. It would increase the cost of doing business and shopping on-line, which would hurt sellers and buyers alike.
Please oppose any efforts to impose new tax burdens on the Internet.
Thank you for your support.
Opponents of sales-tax collection legislation say that it's too complicated for online merchants and catalog companies to collect sales tax across not only the 50 states, but local jurisdictions as well. The Main Street Fairness Act has some simplification provisions, according to the summary of the bill, which can be found here.
eBay created a well funded lobbying arm, eBay Government Relations, under former CEO Meg Whitman's tenure. eBay GR runs the Main Street program that sent out this week's letter to users. You can read an interview AuctionBytes conducted with Vice-President & Deputy General Counsel for Government Relations Tod Cohen in 2006, and you can follow eBay GR on Twitter.
Where do you stand on sales tax collection?
Are small online sellers doomed with regulation and legislation, or is only fair we all play by the same rules?
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