Retailers Urge Super Committee to Help States by Closing Sales Tax Loophole

Nov 02, 2011, 12:59 ET from Retail Industry Leaders Association


ARLINGTON, Va, Nov. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) along with 125 business groups and employers from across the country today asked the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to include in their recommendations to the House and Senate a provision that would close the online sales tax loophole that is harming brick and mortar retail businesses and the communities they serve.  RILA Executive Vice President for Public Affairs Katherine Lugar urged the super committee to help Main Street retailers and the states by including e-fairness legislation in the final recommendations made to Congress.

"Government should no longer be picking winners and losers by giving a handful of online retailers special treatment.  Closing this loophole would create a true free market and would be a win-win for job creators and the states as they grapple with high unemployment and their own budget struggles. 

"Given the likelihood that any solution that reduces the federal budget deficit will also affect the states, this is the perfect opportunity for Congress to return power back to the states and give them authority over their own sales tax collection laws. 

"Congress has a unique opportunity to help job creators and the states at the same time, and we urge members of the super committee to include e-fairness legislation as part of any comprehensive deficit reduction package." 

Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is a trade association of the largest and most successful companies in the retail industry. Its member companies include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales. RILA members operate more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers, have facilities in all 50 states, and provide millions of jobs domestically and worldwide.

Copy of Letter Sent to Lawmakers Below

November 2, 2011

The Honorable Patty Murray
Co-Chair, Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Jeb Hensarling
Co-Chair, Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Senator Murray and Representative Hensarling:

The undersigned companies and state and national trade associations write today to ask that you include in your recommendations to the House and Senate a provision that would close a loophole harming traditional bricks-and-mortar retail businesses while assisting the states in collecting approximately $23 billion in uncollected state sales taxes that are currently due on Internet and catalogue sales. 

At issue is a decades-old Supreme Court ruling, which was issued in 1992, before the pervasiveness of today's Internet commerce, and which prohibits states from requiring remote sellers to collect sales and use taxes owed on purchases from out-of-state vendors. This loophole has created an uneven playing field for bricks-and-mortar retail businesses that face a price disadvantage, has led to budget shortfalls for states as sales taxes go uncollected, and an undue burden on consumers who do not realize they owe the sales tax if it is not collected by the seller, leaving them to face penalties and increased scrutiny from state auditors. Main street retailers are jeopardized as a result of the insurmountable price disadvantage created by this government subsidy along with 15 million bricks-and-mortar retail jobs and one in 10 jobs related to shopping centers. Recent data suggests that one in four jobs is directly or indirectly related to the retail sector.

Several bills are pending in the House and Senate that would give states the authority to manage their sales tax laws while closing this loophole. H.R. 3179, the Marketplace Equity Act, introduced by Reps. Steve Womack (R-AR) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) provides an option for every state to simplify its sales tax statute and assist vendors with compliance, while providing for a robust small business exemption.

S. 1452 and H.R. 2701, the Main Street Fairness Act, introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) would sanction a 24-state compact called the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, providing these states with authority to require collection on remote sales. Senators Durbin, Enzi, and Alexander are also working on a bi-partisan solution, the Marketplace Fairness Act. While all these bills generally accomplish the same goal, they have one item in common: only Congress can grant this authority to the states.

As you seek solutions to address the federal budget, any final product will undoubtedly have an impact on the states, which are likewise facing their own budget crises. Consistent with the goals of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, Congress has an opportunity to help the states resolve their own budget shortfalls by enhancing states' rights over sales tax collection authority and in the process closing a loophole that will level the playing field for all merchants. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction can easily include this authority in its recommendations to the full House and Senate, and we urge you to do so.



American Booksellers Association
American Specialty Toy Retailing Association
American Veterinary Medical Association
Association for Christian Retail
Food Marketing Institute
Independent Running Retailer Association
International Council of Shopping Centers
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
National Association of College Stores
National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts
National Bicycle Dealers Association
National Home Furnishings Association
National Retail Federation
North American Retail Dealers Association
Outdoor Industry Association (OIA)
Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council
Professional Beauty Association
Real Estate Roundtable
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Soccer Dealer Association


Alabama Retail Association
Alliance of Wisconsin Retailers
Arizona Retailers Association
Arkansas Grocers and Retail Merchants Association
California Business Properties Association
California Retailers Association
Carolinas Food Industry Council
Colorado Retail Council
Connecticut Retail Merchants Association
Florida Retail Federation
Georgia Retail Association
Idaho Retailers Association
Illinois Retail Merchants Association
Indiana Retail Council
Iowa Retail Federation
Kentucky Retail Federation
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
Louisiana Retailers Association
Maryland Retailers Association
Michigan Retailers Association
Minnesota Retail Association
Missouri Retailers Association
Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association
Nebraska Retail Federation
New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association
New England Independent Booksellers Association
New Jersey Retail Merchants Association
North Carolina Retail Merchants Association
North Dakota Retail Association
Ohio Council of Retail Merchants
Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association
Pennsylvania Retailers' Association
Retail Association of Mississippi
Retail Association of Nevada
Retail Council of New York State
Retail Merchants of Hawaii
Retailers Association of Massachusetts
Rhode Island Retail Federation
South Carolina Retail Merchants Association
South Dakota Retailers Association
Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
Tennessee Retail Association
Texas Retailers Association
Utah Food Industry Association
Utah Retail Merchants Association
Vermont Retail Association
Virginia Retail Merchants Association
Washington Retail Association
West Virginia Retailers Association
Wyoming Retail Association


Abbell Credit Corporation, Chicago, IL
Acadia Realty Trust, White Plains, NY
AutoZone, Inc.
Barnes and Noble, Inc.
Bed, Bath, & Beyond Inc.
Best Buy Co., Inc.
Blake Hunt Ventures, Inc., Danville, CA
John Bucksbaum, Private Real Estate Investor/Developer, Former Chairman and CEO of General Growth
Properties, Inc., Chicago, IL
Build-A-Bear Workshop®, Saint Louis, MO
CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., Chattanooga, TN
Cencor Realty Services, Dallas, TX
Chesterfield Blue Valley, LLC, St. Louis, MO
The Container Store, Dallas, Texas
The CortiGilchrist Partnership, llc, Al Corti, Principal, San Diego, CA
Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc.
DDR Corp., Beachwood, OH
DLC Management Corp., Tarrytown, NY
Donahue Schriber Realty Group, Costa Mesa, CA
Edens & Avant, Columbia, SC
Evergreen Devco, Inc., Glendale, CA
Fairfield Corporation, Battle Creek, MI
Federal Realty Investment Trust, Rockville, MD
FedTax, David Campbell, CEO
L. Michael Foley and Associates, LLC, La Jolla, CA
Forest City Enterprises, Inc., Cleveland, OH
Gap Inc., San Francisco, CA
Garrison Pacific Properties, San Rafael, CA
General Growth Properties, Chicago, IL
Glimcher Realty Trust, Columbus, OH
The Greeby Companies, Inc., Chicago, IL
Hart Realty Advisers, Inc., Simsbury, CT
David Hocker & Associates, Inc., Owensboro, Kentucky
D. Talmage Hocker, The Hocker Group, Louisville, KY
Kimco Realty Corporation, New Hyde Park, NY
Limited Brands, Columbus OH
Lowe's Companies, Inc.
Malcolm Riley and Associates Los Angeles, CA
Mary Lou Fiala, CEO, Loft Unlimited, Ponte Vedra Beach Florida
Marketing Developments, Inc. MI
Planning Developments, Inc. MI
J.C. Penney Company, Inc.
Petco Animal Supplies, Inc.
The Pratt Company, Mill Valley, CA
The Rappaport Companies, McLean, VA
REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.)
Reininga Corporation, Healdsburg, CA
Safeway, Inc.
Sears Holdings Corporation
The Seayco Group, Bentonville, AK
The Sembler Company, St. Petersburg, FL
Simon Property Group, Indianapolis, IN
Steiner + Associates LLC, Columbus, Ohio
Stirling Properties, Covington, LA
Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc., Greensboro, NC
Target Corporation, Minneapolis, MN
Taubman Realty Group, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Tractor Supply Company
Vestar Development Co. - Phoenix AZ
Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, AR
The Weitzman Group, Dallas, Texas
Western Development Corporation, Washington, DC
Westfield, LLC., Los Angeles, CA
WDP Partners, LLC, Phoenix, AZ
Wolfe Properties, LLC, St. Louis, MO

SOURCE Retail Industry Leaders Association