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JAPAC talks sales tax fairness in Washington

June 26, 2014

The JAPAC went to Washington this month to discuss pressing industry issues with lawmakers. Here, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is pictured with JA President David Bonaparte.

New York--On its recent trip to Capitol Hill, Jewelers of America’s Political Action Committee took the opportunity to discuss the Internet sales tax bill and protection of the Last In, First Out accounting method with legislators, among other topics.

This is the fourth consecutive year the JAPAC has led a delegation of jewelers to Washington, D.C. to share their views with key decision makers. For the June 18 trip, the group met with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), as well as a number of other lawmakers and legislative staff.

According to JA, discussions centered around the recent issue of the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, which JA says would level the playing field between online and brick-and-mortar businesses.

The bill would give states the ability to collect sales tax from online and catalog retailers no matter where they are located, just like they are able to do with local retailers now. The bill passed through the Senate on a 69-27 vote last May but, after more than a year, remains stalled in the House of Representatives.

The four U.S. Senators who introduced the bill--Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)--took to the Senate floor last month to urge the House to take action.

RELATED CONTENT: A year later, Internet sales tax bill still stalled

The JAPAC met with key supporters of the bill in Washington, including Reed, who is a co-sponsor. They also attended a lunch with House Republicans who support it--including Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-03), Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15) and Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-19)--reporting that the tone at the lunch was in favor of pushing the sales tax fairness bill through the House.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-6), who leads the House’s work on the legislation, and Chaffetz (UT-03), a member of the committee, are expected to introduce a modified version later this year.

In addition to the sales tax bill, discussions also turned to protection of the Last In, First Out (LIFO) inventory accounting method. 

Jewelry businesses that use the LIFO inventory accounting method are able to record the sale of their most expensive inventory first, thereby decreasing profits and reducing taxes. The Obama administration has long sought repeal of the practice in administrative budget proposals, as it raises revenue.

Additionally, JAPAC discussed the extension of the 15-year leasehold improvement depreciation.

Currently, improvements made to retail stores must be depreciated over 39 years, according to JA. The group said it supports inclusion of the 15-year depreciation provision in a retroactive tax extenders package, expected to be taken up by Congress after the November midterm elections.

The discussions also underlined the importance of jewelers staying proactive on Internet sales tax fairness and other key issues, which they can do through JA’s online Advocacy Center.

The JAPAC is the only political action committee that supports the fine retail jewelry industry in Washington. Through it, employees of JA member firms can join with other jewelry industry professionals to back candidates for federal office who support the interests of the jewelry industry.