National Jeweler Network

Public Policy & Issues

Senate revives Internet sales tax bill

By Michelle Graff

July 17, 2014

Washington--A group of U.S. Senators have re-introduced last year’s Internet sales tax bill, this time pairing it with a different piece of Internet legislation that already has been passed by the House.

The Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 last year but the bill hit a dead end in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. 

The new bill, The Marketplace and Internet Tax Freedom Act, contains the same language as the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013--which allows any state that is a member of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA) to require remote retailers to collect state and local sales tax--but combines it with a bill that would permanently ban states and local governments from taxing Internet access.

The four original senators who introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act last year--Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)--are pushing this new bill, along with two new senators, Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

When asked why he thought this Marketplace Fairness legislation has a chance of passing in the House when the previous, and same, bill stalled, Daniel Head, a spokesman for Enzi’s office, said the senator is an “eternal optimist.” 

“He believes in Marketplace Fairness and stopping Internet access from being taxed. He believes this is the right time to deal with both of these issues,” Head said.

It also helps that the online sales tax legislation is now riding the back of a bill that already has made it through the House. On Wednesday, the House passed a permanent ban on Internet access taxes, a ban that has been in place for 16 years but renewed on a temporary basis only.

The original Marketplace Fairness Act passed the Senate by a vote of 69-27 in May 2013 but since has stalled in the House. 

RELATED CONTENT: Senate passes Internet sales tax bill

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, meaning that the bill making it to the House floor ultimately was dependent upon him. 

Goodlatte said last June that he had “serious concerns” about the Senate-passed Marketplace Fairness Act and was working on an alternate version of the legislation. On Wednesday, his communications director referred questions about the bill to the House Judiciary Committee. A message sent to the committee went unreturned. 

The re-introduction of the Internet sales tax bill comes less than a month after members of Jewelers of America’s Political Action Committee traveled to Washington to discuss topics important to retail jewelers, including Internet sales tax. 

RELATED CONTENT: JAPAC talks sales tax fairness in Washington

Commenting on the re-introduction of the legislation, JA President Dave Bonaparte said, “Jewelers of America welcomes and applauds the Senate’s introduction of the Marketplace and Internet Tax Fairness Act and supports ongoing bipartisan efforts in the Senate to push for both chambers of Congress to pass e-fairness legislation ... Jewelers of America is hopeful that this will keep e-fairness top-of-mind and lead to full passage by the end of this year.”

Jewelers who wish to voice their opinion on sales tax fairness can do so through JA’s online advocacy center

A PDF of The Marketplace and Internet Tax Freedom Act can be downloaded from the National Retail Federation’s website