ICSC, Retail Industry Urges Congress to Close Online Sales Tax Loophole

Nov 02, 2011, 11:39 ET from International Council of Shopping Centers

Letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction outlines proposal to level the playing field for all retailers while reducing the deficit

WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) joined a coalition of more than 140 businesses, trade associations, and shopping center owners in sending a letter to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), co-chairs of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, calling on them to include in their recommendations to Congress an e-fairness provision that would empower states with the ability to require that online retailers collect sales tax at the point-of-purchase.

"The current sales tax framework is outdated, complicated and unfair, and was enacted at a time when online retailing was not a reality," said David B. Henry, chairman of ICSC and president & CEO of Kimco Realty Corporation.  "A 1992 Supreme Court decision created an online sales tax loophole that has put brick-and-mortar stores at a significant competitive disadvantage -- eroding their ability to stay in business, support their communities, and continue to drive the American economy.  It has also led to budget shortfalls for states as taxes go uncollected.  We call on Senator Murray and Representative Hensarling to recommend that Congress close the online sales tax loophole and level the playing field for all retailers."

Several bills are pending in the House and Senate that would give states the authority to collect the approximately $23 billion in uncollected state sales taxes that are currently due on Internet and catalogue sales.

"By exploiting the online sales tax loophole, large Internet-only retailers are putting main-street retailers out of business and Americans out of jobs every day," added Michael Kercheval, president and CEO of ICSC.  "It should never be the role of government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.  Congress must take action to close the loophole, give states the authority to manage their sales tax collection, and create an equitable marketplace for all retailers.  We are encouraged by the pending legislation and the progress made on the issue so far."

Among the signatories to the letter were the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), the National Retail Federation (NRF), and more than 50 ICSC board member companies representing shopping center owners and operators, and retailers.

ICSC has promoted sales tax fairness for over a decade, advocating that a "sale is a sale" regardless of whether the purchase takes place on Main Street, at a shopping center, via mail-order or over the Internet.  For more information, visit www.icsc.org/salestaxfairness.

Founded in 1957, ICSC is the premier global trade association of the shopping center industry. Its more than 55,000 members in over 90 countries include shopping center owners, developers, managers, marketing specialists, investors, retailers and brokers, as well as academics and public officials. As the global industry trade association, ICSC links with more than 25 national and regional shopping center councils throughout the world. For more information, visit www.icsc.org.  

SOURCE International Council of Shopping Centers