Bipartisan trio of U.S. senators to introduce federal sales tax collection bill
Congressional efforts to pass a nationwide law enabling all states to collect sales taxes on Internet purchases is gaining momentum.
A bipartisan trio of senators scheduled a Wednesday morning briefing with reporters to unveil legislation dubbed the Marketplace Fairness Bill.
The proposal is backed by Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.).
The bill, one of at least three now in Congress, comes as California and other states battle with Internet retail giant Amazon.com over the sales tax. Amazon has agreed to start collecting sales taxes in California beginning in September 2012. The company fought an earlier state law by threatening to wage a referendum campaign to overturn the measure, calling it unconstitutional.
The new federal legislation gives states two ways to collect billions of dollars in unpaid sales taxes when consumers buy products from Internet sellers, such as Amazon, Overstock.com or EBay.com. States that become part of a multi-state legal agreement and bring their sales tax codes into conformity with other states can compel Internet retailers to charge and remit the sales tax.
But other states that don't sign the interstate compact still could collect the taxes if they adopt minimum standards to simplify the levies.
The Durbin-Alexander-Enzi bill would exempt all sellers with annual sales of less than $500,000 from collecting individual state sales taxes.
A fact sheet distributed by their offices stressed that the measure "does not create new taxes or increase existing taxes."
-- Marc Lifsher
Photo: An Amazon distribution center in Goodyear, Ariz. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press