EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2909 - October 09, 2012     0 of 5

Sales Tax Burden Looms for Online Sellers

By David A. Utter

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While the esteemed candidates for President of the United States debate the fate of Big Bird on Sesame Street, the real issue for ecommerce professionals on the internet's Main Street involves the collection of sales taxes.

Washington wants to find a way to get state sales taxes collected by all online sellers from all buyers who should be liable for such taxes. The quaint idea of requiring a physical "nexus" in a state to require a seller to collect sales taxes is rapidly becoming past tense.

Calling your Congressman may not be of much help. As Reuters noted, the trio of bills on Capitol Hill addressing the issue enjoy support from both sides of the political aisle.

Ecommerce venues conducting $500,000 or more in annual sales face the added burden of collecting those taxes. The truly small online seller won't be affected. But realizing the American Dream and becoming successful, surpassing that mark, will mean doing what brick-and-mortar stores do in collecting those sales taxes.

The Main Street Fairness Act has been lurking before Congress for 14 months. To date, twenty-four states have agreed to adhere to the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA), a requirement of collecting such taxes under the Act.

The Marketplace Equity Act before the House was introduced by Steve Womack (R-AR). "These transactions - millions of them everyday - are simply going without proper tax treatment," Womack said on his Bill's informational page. "It is time this loophole is closed."

The Marketplace Fairness Act before the Senate sports its own website. Like the Main Street Fairness Act, it requires states to follow SSUTA in simplifying their sales tax laws in order to collect online sales taxes.

With three bills in the running and both political parties in both sides of Congress lining up to support this type of legislation, online sellers should take this as a sign that such change looks inevitable.

About the Author
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. Find him on LinkedIn.

About the author:

David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. Send your tips to and find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.

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