WASHINGTON — Brick-and-mortar retailers, who have pushed for Internet sales tax fairness for over a decade, won a symbolic victory early Saturday morning.
It came when the Senate approved a nonbinding amendment that gives support to legislation that would enable states to collect sales taxes from out-of-state online and remote sellers — a top Congressional issue for retailers this year.
The amendment was added to a Senate budget blueprint for fiscal year 2014, which the Democratic-controlled Senate narrowly passed on a 50-49 vote around 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning.
It is the first budget proposal the Senate has passed in four years and sets the stage for work on actual budget legislation to fund the government when the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.
The nonbinding and largely symbolic budget blueprint called for nearly $1 trillion in new taxes over 10 years, combined with $975 billion in spending cuts. It would also end the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts known as the “sequester,” which took effect earlier this month.
The Republican-controlled House approved a more austere budget plan on Thursday and did not include an Internet sales tax amendment.
A broad swath of the retail community hailed the passage in the Senate of the nonbinding amendment on online sales tax collection.
The amendment, offered by Sens. Mike Enzi (R., Wyoming), Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) and others, who are cosponsors of “The Marketplace Fairness Act” legislation, would establish a reserve fund in the federal budget and allow state and local governments to collect sales taxes from online and remote sellers, such as catalogue companies, that sell more than $1 million worth of products annually.
The vote on the amendment was essentially a test vote that gave the senators an indication of whether they have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster by Republicans if the legislation comes up for a vote later this year.
It passed 75-24, which could prompt Senate leaders to get behind advancing legislation this year.
Michael P. Kercheval, president and chief executive officer of the International Council of Shopping Centers, said the vote on the amendment “clearly shows that there are enough votes in the Senate to pass…the Marketplace Fairness Act.
“The vote also sends a strong signal to Republicans and Democrats in both the House and the Senate that momentum for e-fairness legislation has been building since the end of last Congress,” Kercheval added.
“This is a critically important issue for retailers — both large and small — across the country,” said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer at the National Retail Federation. “Both brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce leaders understand that the Marketplace Fairness Act is common-sense legislation dedicated to protecting states’ rights, strengthening our communities and preserving our free-market system.
Sandy Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said: “The overwhelming bipartisan vote in the Senate is proof positive that the federal government’s special treatment of online-only retailers will soon be a thing of the past.
“While we take nothing for granted, today’s vote opens many pathways to making the Marketplace Fairness Act law this year, leveling the playing field for Main Street merchants once and for all.”
The debate over taxing Web sales has taken place in Washington for more than a decade without any resolution, but states have been enacting their own laws to close what they say is a loophole created in 1992 in Quill v. North Dakota, a Supreme Court ruling that stated retailers were required to collect sales tax from out-of-state customers only if they have a “physical presence” in the customer’s state.
E-tailers have relied on that decision to avoid collecting sales tax on online orders. Brick-and-mortar retailers, including those with e-commerce sites, that are typically required to collect sales taxes in states where they have stores, argue that puts them at a competitive price disadvantage and have lobbied for federal legislation to resolve the issue.
A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers introduced The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 in February, aimed at giving states the authority and option to collect sales taxes from out-of-state businesses in the 45 states that collect sales taxes, rather than rely on consumers to pay those taxes to the states. The legislation provides for a small seller exemption that prohibits states from requiring remote sellers with less than $1 million in annual nationwide remote sales to collect sales and use taxes.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye