WASHINGTON — Retailers won the support of President Obama on Monday on legislation in the Senate that would enable states to collect sales taxes from out-of-state online and remote sellers.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama supports the Marketplace Fairness Act because it will “level the playing field for local, small business retailers who are undercut every day by out-of-state online companies.”
“Today, while local small business retailers follow the law and collect sales taxes from customers who make purchases in their stores, many big business online and catalogue retailers do not collect the same taxes,” Carney said at the White House daily press briefing. “This puts local neighborhood-based small businesses at a disadvantage to big out-of-state online companies, and because these out-of-state companies are able to cut corners and play by a different set of rules, cities and states lose out on funding for K through 12 education, police and fire protection, access to affordable health care and funding for roads and bridges.”
Carney said the White House has heard “overwhelmingly” from governors, mayors and the business community about the need for federal legislation to create sales tax fairness.
In a “statement of administration policy,” released after Carney spoke, the White House reiterated its support and said it was also “pleased that [the bill] provides an exception for small online businesses and requires states to make available, at no cost to retailers, software that helps calculate the state sales tax on remote transactions, as well as administrative services.”
The legislation passed its first procedural hurdle in the Senate on Monday evening, as senators voted 74 to 20 to move to proceed to debate and consideration of the bill. A final vote is expected later this week. Retailers won a symbolic victory last month in their decade-long fight for a federal measure, when the Senate approved a nonbinding amendment on a vote of 75 to 24, as part of a budget blueprint. The House would still have to pass the same bill in order for it to go to the President for his signature.