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eBay Says Congress Will Try to Sneak Passage of Online Sales Tax Bill

eBay sent an email to sellers on Monday asking them to contact their members of Congress regarding the pending online sales tax bill. “If the Marketplace Fairness Act is allowed to become law, it could require online sellers like you to collect sales taxes nationwide from the more than 9,600 tax jurisdictions,” eBay ‘s head of Government Relations Tod Cohen wrote in the letter.

The Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act in May, a bill that would authorize states to begin collecting sales taxes on purchases from out-of-state Internet retailers. The bill’s sponsor Senator Enzi said the bill was about fairness, “about leveling the playing field between the brick-and-mortar and online companies.”

But in an email to eBay sellers, titled “Internet taxes – share your view,” Cohen said eBay sellers could face the prospect of being audited by tax collectors from other states.

“The bill’s supporters and their Washington lobbyists still want to get the bill through Congress by attaching it to important pieces of legislation that Congress must pass, such as the government funding and debt ceiling bills. Congress must fix the Senate bill by significantly increasing the small business exemption. That is why we need your help. If you oppose attempts to force an unfair Internet sales tax bill into law, raise your voice and let your representatives in Congress know.”

The email linked to a page on eBayMainStreet.com, eBay’s government relations page designed to communicate with its users at a grass roots level. There, sellers can fill out a form, click a button, and eBay will send a letter on their behalf to their members of Congress that starts off with, “As your constituent and a small business, I ask that you oppose any attempts to attach the Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 743/H.R.684) in its current form to any must-pass federal budget legislation in the months ahead.”

The page warns sellers, “Unfortunately, the bill’s supporters and their lobbyists may be trying to bypass the regular legislative process and sneak this bill into law by attaching it to an unrelated federal budget bill in the months ahead. That would be bad news.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.