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eBay Warns Sellers about Congressional Spending Bill

eBay sent sellers an email on Friday with the subject line, “Help protect yourself from internet sales tax legislation.” In it, eBay warned that Congress is mulling a year-end spending bill that could include legislation around sales tax collection.

In addition to the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) that has failed to pass each year since its first incarnation, a new bill has surfaced this year, the brainstorm of Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz called the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA).

eBay had written last month to brief sellers who participate in its Main Street grassroots lobbying program on RTPA, which it called far worse for small online retailers than the MFA.

Referencing what it called the RTPA’s online marketplace discrimination clause, eBay has said, “Any seller, regardless of the size of their business, who uses an online marketplace platform will be forced to collect and remit tax to every jurisdiction to which they sell products.”

Here is the fulltext of the email eBay sent over the weekend:

Dear (redacted),
As part of the year-end spending bill, Congress is considering including legislation that could unfairly impose burdensome compliance requirements on small businesses and entrepreneurs like you. We encourage you to learn more and prevent this from happening.

The Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) and its companion, the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA), would require small online retailers to adhere to tax laws in more than 9,600 tax jurisdictions. This could subject small businesses, like yours, to audits and enforcement by faraway state tax enforcement agencies. These requirements would impact the competitiveness of small businesses by holding them to the same tax burden standard as large retail businesses that have facilities across the country and teams of lawyers and accountants.

If you agree that Congress should not pass this harmful legislation as part of the year-end spending bill, we urge you to send a letter to your member of Congress. Please take a moment to fill out this form and the letter will be created for you. Thank you for your time, especially during this busy holiday selling season. Know that your involvement in this issue will make a difference.
The eBay Government Relations Team

eBay directed Main Street participants to this page on its website where it explains its stance on the issue and urges sellers to write – or tweet – to their members of Congress voicing their opposition.

A sample letter sellers can use to communicate with legislators begins: “I am asking you to oppose any efforts to include the Marketplace Fairness Act or the Remote Transactions Parity Act in the year-end omnibus spending bill. This legislation is unrelated to federal government spending and would only serve to stifle business growth and hurt consumers.”

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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. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.