Thursday, July 18, 2013

Congress needs to act on the Marketplace Fairness Act say local officials and businesses

Salem Councilwoman Jane Johnson flanked by Mike Altizer and Joyce Waugh.

Salem Councilwoman Jane Johnson flanked by Mike Altizer and Joyce Waugh.

Taxing online sales according to each states sales tax rate is not that complicated with today’s technology explained Joyce Waugh, President of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce. The tension between the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives is the culprit holding up House passage. “There is a lot of pushback from online retailers too,” she said.

The Senate passed the bill overwhelmingly on a bi-partisan vote on May 6. However Congress is holding it up in the Judiciary Committee chaired by Congressman Bob Goodlatte who previously expressed reservations on acting on the bill anytime soon.

Goodlatte in response to an inquiry said in an email from his office Wednesday, “I continue to have serious concerns regarding the Marketplace Fairness Act passed by the Senate.  The House is currently examining all of the issues surrounding the collection of online sales taxes and working on alternatives to the bill passed by the Senate.”

Rep. Morgan Griffith is a one of 60 co-sponsors including Virginia’s Rep. Scott Rigell and Rep. Bobby Scott.

With today’s technology U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine on a visit to the Roanoke Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce on May 1 said, “This is a problem that has been debated for 15 years without any action.” However there needs to be an exception for small online retailers. The threshold would be something like $1 million of online sales before the tax would kick in. “That’s a fair compromise,” he said.

Governor Bob McDonnell is counting on adoption of the Marketplace Fairness Act to fund transportation and passenger rail. If the bill fails, the wholesale price of gas will go from 3.5 percent to 5.1 percent to make up for the shortfall.

Dr. Arthur Laffer is an economic conservative and “the father of supply-side economics”. He argues in the Pro Growth Tax Reform and e-fairness study that closing the online sales tax loophole is not only necessary to address a fundamental inequity in the free market, but also could help drive us back to the kind of economic growth seen between 1960 and 1999.

Dr. Laffer, a President Reagan’s economist concludes that passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act will jumpstart the economy and lead to over 14,000 jobs in Virginia.

His study also concludes that passage of the bill also has the potential to lower overall tax rates and jumpstart economic growth and would create a tax system with fewer loopholes, a larger base, and lower rates for all taxpayers, which could lead to an increase in GDP of $563.2 billion and over 1.5 million jobs over the next 10 years.

Mike Altizer takes the podium flanked by Jane Johnson and Joyce Waugh.

Mike Altizer takes the podium flanked by Jane Johnson and Joyce Waugh.

A press conference was held at R.M. Johnson and Sons Jewelers in Salem Wednesday where Mike Altizer Chair of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors, President of the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Joyce Waugh and Salem City Councilwoman Jane Johnson an owner of R.M. Johnson and Son Jewelers want to see movement of the bill sooner rather than later.

 “As the owner of a jewelry store, I can tell you that the Laffer study makes sense.  I regularly lose sales to online vendors solely because of sales taxes.  If we have a level playing field, recovering enough of those sales because of e-fairness might allow me to hire another employee,” said Salem City Councilwoman Jane Woods. “Broadening the tax base by collecting already-owed taxes can enable our local government to keep tax rates low, too.”

Congress needs to look at all the reasons they can do this said Mike Altizer and “quit trying to find the reasons they can’t.” He realized there were other important things on Congress’ agenda but this is about the economy he said. “It doesn’t cost the government anything.”

Altizer said for every one penny that localities get back from the state of the 5.3% sales tax adds up. “I think the kickback is coming from all these internet companies,” he said. “They really don’t want to be burdened with this …it should not be that the onus of reporting [sales tax] should not be on the citizens when they make a purchase.”

“Dr. Laffer’s study proves that the Marketplace Fairness Act broadens the tax base …This is the conservative position and conservatives and republicans should embrace it.  Conservative economic policies should flatten out the tax code and lower rates for everyone to unleash productivity and job growth.”

Joyce Waugh believes that everyone in Congress is in agreement conceptually. She too believes they should “just pick a number” for an online sales threshold to protect small businesses.  “As a supporter of free markets, the Chamber believes that the government should not be picking winners and losers in the marketplace. Passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act will lead to greater economic efficiency,” she said.

Sen. Kaine optimistic but Rep. Goodlatte guarded on Marketplace Fairness Act

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Posted By Valerie Garner

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