By Michelle Graff
Washington, D.C.--The issue of “sales tax fairness” is back on the table, again, in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

On Thursday, Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyoming) resurrected the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” the legislation first introduced in 2013.

The act passed the Senate that year but never got to the floor of the House for a vote. A nearly identical version of the bill was reintroduced in March 2015 but did not even pass the Senate.

Joining Enzi as co-sponsors on the bill were Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota).

In the House, Rep. Kristi Noem (R-South Dakota) reintroduced the “Remote Transactions Parity Act” along with Reps. Steve Womack (R-Arkansas), Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), Lou Barletta (R-Pennsylvania), John Conyers (D-Michigan), Jackie Speier (D-California), Peter Welch (D-Vermont), Suzan DelBene (D-Washington) and David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island).

The Remote Transactions Parity Act was introduced in June 2015, originally by Chaffetz, but did not pass the House during the 114th Congress.

While the Senate and House bills are not identical, both would allow states to require out-of-state sellers to collect sales tax, regardless of whether or not they have a physical location in the state.

The issue of sales tax collection by online-only retailers has been introduced in Congress in the form of various bills for more than a decade, but none have made it through.

In that time, a number of states have passed or considered legislation that would require online sellers to collect sales tax, and the largest e-tailer in the country announced that it would start collecting sales tax in all states where it’s required.

On April 1, Amazon, which ranks No. 9 on National Jeweler’s latest $100 Million Supersellers list, started collecting sales tax in 45 states (there is no state sales tax in Alaska, Oregon, Montana, Delaware and New Hampshire.)

But other online sellers, including Blue Nile, do not collect sales tax in all states. Brick-and-mortar retailers--particularly those who sell high-dollar items online, like independent jewelers--have long complained puts them at a disadvantage.

As Gene Poole, owner of Hudson-Poole Jewelers in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, put it in a recent interview with National Jeweler: “My real agitation with the internet is sales tax. I can compete with diamond prices and I can compete with mounting prices, but I can’t compete with sales tax ... At some point, we have to level the playing field and Congress needs to get on board.”

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