A bill that would allow states to collect taxes from online purchases will be introduced in both chambers of Congress on Thursday after several setbacks at the end of last year.
The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, authored by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., would give states the authority to place a tax on online purchases, but would exempt small businesses that earn less than $500,000 annually from out-of-state sales.
The three senators have been working with House sponsors on a bill that resolves the differences between the three versions of the bill introduced last Congress so that the same bill is introduced in both chambers on Thursday, a Senate staffer said. The two other versions of an online sales tax bill introduced in 2012 were the Marketplace Equity Act and the Main Street Fairness Act.
The senators will introduce the MFA as a standalone bill but they will keep all options open to move it to a vote, including making it part of a larger legislative vehicle, the staffer said.
The MFA was originally introduced in November 2011 and referred to the Senate Finance Committee. The three senators tried unsuccessfully to include the bill as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act of 2013 at the end of last year.
"The National Retail Federation has long supported sales tax legislation that levels the playing field between brick and mortar and online sellers," said Stephen Schatz, spokesman for the NRF. "We welcome this introduction of the Marketplace Fairness Act. We definitely thank the sponsors and cosponsors of this bill for making it a priority this session."
It's estimated that states are unable to collect more than $23 billion in sales taxes owed annually from sales made through catalogs over the Internet. At the end of last year, state and local groups, including the National Conference of State Legislators and the National Governors Association, heavily lobbied Congress to pass an online sales tax bill in hopes that it would be included in the year-end so-called "fiscal cliff" agreement.