Online retailers are voicing their support for the Online Sales Tax Simplification Act of 2016, a discussion draft of which has been circulating for about a week.
The drafted bill, which hasn’t yet been formally introduced in the House of Representatives, proposes a more streamlined system to determine the sales tax collected on online orders. It would allow e-retailers to remit the collected monies to their home state revenue office in the same manner they already remit taxes collected on web sales to in-state residents. Read more about the legislation here or view the discussion draft of the bill here.
A letter organized by the TruST Coalition voicing support for the Online Sales Tax Simplification Act and sent Thursday to Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., garnered more than 100 signatures from e-retailers, catalogers and retail industry associations. Goodlatte is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and author of the drafted legislation. The TruST Coalition is a lobbying group that champions keeping interstate commerce and competition free from what it considers unfair tax burdens imposed at the state level. Its members include the American Catalog Mailers Association, the Direct Marketing Association and the Electronic Retailing Association.
Letter signers include several e-retailers ranked in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 and Second 500 Guides, which collectively rank the largest North American e-retailers by their annual web sales. E-retailers supporting the bill include: Overstock.com Inc. (No. 29), Colony Brands Inc. (No. 138), Crutchfield Corp. ( No. 171), Mason Companies Inc. (No. 180), Blue Nile Inc. (No. 182), Potpourri Group Inc. (No. 184), Christianbook.com LLC (No. 481), Baudville (No. 736) and Harriet Carter Gifts Inc. (No. 755). See the letter and full list of signers here.
The letter of support calls on Congress to “bring certainty and rationality” to the online tax situation. Prevailing federal law from 1992 requires online and catalog retailers to collect sales tax only in states where they have a physical presence, also known as nexus, such as an office or warehouse. But in recent years a handful of states, including Colorado, Alabama and South Dakota, have enacted sales tax collection laws at the state level. That has created a patchwork of rules that can be complicated for e-retailers to follow and has led at least one e-retailer to suspend sales. Blue Nile, which signed the letter, stopped selling to South Dakota residents in May after that state began requiring retailers without a physical presence in the state to collect sales tax on online orders. South Dakota also sued Top 500-ranked e-retailers Newegg Inc. (No. 17), Overstock, Systemax Inc. (No. 32) and Wayfair Inc. (No. 24) in circuit court to force them to comply with the state-level tax collection law even though they have no physical presence in South Dakota.