Haslam to Push Congressmen for Approval of Internet Sales Taxing

Gov. Bill Haslam says he’ll urge Tennessee’s congressmen to vote for the internet sales tax bill, reports Richard Locker. The bill faces a much tougher vote in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives than it did in passing the Democrat-controlled Senate on Monday.
Speaking to reporters after a book discussion at the small, independent Parnassus Books store (in Nashville), the governor said he’s already had conversations with some of the Tennessee House delegation and plans more. “I do think it’s critical for our state. We’re a sales tax driven state. We have folks — this bookstore — that are providing a product and collecting sales tax and other folks who are providing the same product and not collecting sales tax. And it’s not a new tax; it’s a tax that’s is owed right now but that people aren’t paying.”
…The National Conference of State Legislatures, which supports the bill, estimates that Tennessee lost $748 million in state and local sales taxes from internet sales last year….University of Tennessee economics professor William F. Fox, director of the UT Center for Business & Economic Research and a nationally recognized expert on internet sales taxes, said the issue has economic implications beyond taxation. “What we have today is an environment in which the way I buy something determines if I remit the tax. We are subsidizing out of state internet retailers at the expense of the bricks and mortar business in Germantown or on Beale Street. They’re harmed at the expense of a company operating out of Oregon.
“For our congressmen and women not to vote for this, they are saying they would rather advantage retailers out of state than allow our own retailers to compete on a level playing field,” Fox said. He said his research indicates that Walmart employs about five workers per $1 million in sales while Amazon employs one. “It tells us Amazon is really efficient but they don’t need people on a sales floor. I’m not arguing against Amazon. All I’m asking for is a level playing field.”
…Both of Tennessee’s U.S. senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, voted for the bill in the Senate, where it passed 69-27. But a survey of Tennessee’s House delegation by the Chattanooga Times Free on Monday found that only the two Democrats — U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen of Memphis and Jim Cooper of Nashville — support the bill while most of the seven Republicans haven’t decided and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, opposes it.
Haslam pointed to the bookstore he was standing in as an example of the unfair advantage out of state internet retailers have. The small store, co-owned by Nashville author Ann Patchett, employs 19 full and part time workers.
“And if you look around, Davis-Kidd and others used to be here, This is a prime example but it’s not just about books anymore,” the governor said. “I know people that buy their dishwashing detergent online now.”

5 thoughts on “Haslam to Push Congressmen for Approval of Internet Sales Taxing

  1. Eric H

    “And it’s not a new tax; it’s a tax that’s is owed right now but that people aren’t paying.”
    Why I hear even Amazon doesn’t collect it on in-state sales….I wonder where they got that idea?
    So why do we need a new federal law again? To restore “states’ rights” (to your money)?

  2. AD

    All I can say is these companies are fully capable of forming an online marketplace if they want this to be a “fair and even playing field”
    Many stores have brick-and-mortar shops as well as a strong online presence. They sell in-state as well as out-of-state, both online and in retail shops. They do fine.
    What we need is fewer laws. Not yet another tax on top of another tax that they are too lazy to enforce.

  3. BGA

    There’s already a law on the books to collect tax on out of state purchases – the BUYER is supposed to pay it – but nobody does. If the State wants the tax, enforce the law! Don’t make the business submit it-it’s a nightmare to submit sales taxes. There are three entities to collect for – the city, county, and state. Each one needs to be submitted MONTHLY. So for every purchase from a different city/county, the business would need to file a tax report and payment EACH MONTH.

  4. Tom Wiegand

    It is a States business and not the Federal Government’s. The commerce clause only allows the Federal Government to take action against forces that would affect fair trade between the states. In this case it is the states themselves that that choose to vary their sales tax rates. Which is their prerogative. But in making a decision that may in some way impede their own states business is not to be confused with an effort to impede some others states ability to do business among the fellow states. So for any state to run to the Federal Government and call foul cause their fellow state decides on a lower sales tax is asking for favorable treatment from the Federal government. Something the commerce clause was set in place to curtail not to cultivate.

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