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Washington Watch - April 25 2013

Senate to Vote on Internet Sales Tax Bill

The Senate is slated to vote on the Marketplace Fairness Act this week, sending the bill to the House before the recess week. The main thrust of the bill is to require companies with more than $1 million in sales to collect sales tax on items and goods sold on the Internet, sending nearly $11 billion in tax revenue to states and local governments.

The bill has been a point of contention between brick and mortar businesses and the big online sellers, like Amazon and eBay. Large online retailers currently don’t collect sales tax because of the 1992 Supreme Court case that ruled Internet and catalog retailers “don’t have to charge local sales taxes to a customer so long as they don’t have a ‘physical presence’ in the customer’s state. Buyers are supposed to just pay the tax directly to the state.” In order words, as surprising as it may be, it’s up to the buyer to calculate the sales tax they owe and pay it directly to the state.

The challenge for online retailers is developing a system that would account for the 9,600 different local taxing authorities, creating a possible financial and tax mess. However, supporters of the bill argue that the collection of the sales tax creates parity between the traditional brick and mortar operations and the highly successful virtual marketplaces that have become such an integral part of day-to-day life.

Once the bill clears the Senate, which is almost certain, the House will have to address the legislation, a far more unpredictable fate for overall passage.

The NASE has previously supported similar legislation, but has currently not taken a position on the Marketplace Fairness Act.

In Huffington Post Blog, NASE President & CEO Kristie Arslan Talks Immigration

The NASE recently released the results of its 2013 Immigration Survey, touting the overwhelming support of the self-employed for comprehensive immigration reform, including an easy, verifiable employment verification system that all business owners who have employees can utilize.

This week, Kristie Arslan took up the case for immigration reform in a Huffington Post blog post, noting that Small Firms Are Ready for Immigration Reform. The blog highlights NASE Member Stephen McNeilly, owner of Service Proz Inc. McNeilly uses the system, “called E-Verify, to check employees at his various landscaping, maintenance and pest control businesses in Illinois and Florida. The upside: It is easy to use, he said. The problem is it can take as much as two months to get a response about a worker's status, he said.”

McNeilly’s story highlights the need for Congress to develop a thoughtful employment verification system that ensures that employers are compliant with federal law, but don’t face an undue burden.

You can read Kristie’s blog posting here, Small Firms Are Ready for Immigration Reform.

Small Business Administration Announces National Small Business Week (June 16-22)

The Small Business Administration announced this week a five-city event celebrating National Small Business Week; previously the SBA had limited events to the Washington, D.C. metro area. In an effort to highlight the impact of small businesses on the economy, the five-day celebration will take place in key cities around the country: Seattle, Wash.; Dallas, Texas; St. Louis, Mo.; Pittsburg, Pa.; and Washington, D.C.

To learn more about National Small Business Week and get involved in the efforts, please check out the Small Business Administration National Small Business Week website.

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