By Renée Sunde, President/CEO
My husband Dan accompanied me last weekend to an event in Olympia for Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Edmonds.
We attended to thank Sen. Cantwell for supporting the long-standing effort in the U.S. Congress to enact national sales tax reform that would create a fair marketplace for traditional brick-and-mortar and online retailers. That change has not yet occurred, but Senator Cantwell has twice voted for bills that would correct the inequity of many online sellers operating with a price advantage because they choose not to collect sales taxes. Her support helped earn Cantwell the National Retail Federation’s Hero of Main Street award.
We applaud Senator Cantwell’s steady support of Marketplace Fairness legislation. Such a law would require online sellers to collect owed taxes to the states of their customers.
The debate recently moved to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in the South Dakota v. Wayfair, et al case that regards collections of sales taxes. We expect the court could rule next month. The 2016 South Dakota law requires out-of-state sellers exceeding $100,000 in annual sales with 200 or more separate sale transactions into the state to collect and remit sales taxes.
This debate is crucial to the retail industry and state and local governments as well. Washington Retail Association supports national sales tax reform because it would allow shoppers to choose how to shop rather than allowing price to artificially create an advantage for one class of retailer over another.
At the same time, reforming national sales tax practices would generate missing owed funds needed by states and cities struggling to provide essential services.