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eBay and Sellers Spared in Congressional Spending Bill

Congress introduced a new spending bill this week that could avert a government shutdown, and it could also spell relief for eBay and its sellers.

eBay has been urging sellers to write to Congress opposing two bills that would require online sellers to collect sales tax even in states where they don’t have nexus: the Marketplace Fairness Act and the Remote Transaction Parity Act.

Earlier this month, eBay told sellers it was worried that the year-end spending bill could include legislation around sales tax collection. But the spending bill introduced on Tuesday doesn’t include any language about online sales tax collection.

eBay had told sellers that the Remote Transaction Parity Act was actually far worse for small online retailers than the MFA. “Like the MFA, the RTPA has a very small exemption for sellers with gross sales under $1MM. However, any business that uses an electronic marketplace (like eBay) is automatically disqualified from this already tiny exemption.”

eBay and PayPal did not respond to our inquiries about the bill, referred to as an omnibus bill since it “packages many of the smaller regular appropriations bills into one larger single bill that could be passed with only one vote in each house,” as Wikipedia explains.

Etsy and Amazon both declined to comment.

The National Retail Federation retail trade association said it welcomed the inclusion of short-term relief from several Affordable Care Act tax provisions and said the agreement would help lend additional confidence to the economy. It said it supported the overall package “even though certain other significant retail priorities were not addressed,” naming “sales tax fairness” among other issues. “These remain high priority issues for retailers, and NRF will continue to press these items in the second session of this Congress.”

Jason Brewer of Retail Industry Leaders Association said, “We strongly believe than an e-Fairness solution (MFA/RTPA) should be paired and passed with PITFA (Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act). There was an effort at the last minute to put PITFA into the customs conference report (which we strongly opposed).

“At this point, it does not appear that the Senate will vote on the customs bill this year, so the fight carries over into next year. We support both PITFA and e-Fairness legislation, and will continue to oppose any effort to pass PITFA without addressing the sales tax parity issue.”

You can find more information about the bill in this article on TheHill.com.

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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.