Share This Page

Senate OKs taxing online sales

| Monday, May 6, 2013, 8:27 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted 69 to 27 on Monday to pass a bill to tax online shopping.

The vote is a major victory for retail groups and state governments, who for years have fought to close what they believe is a loophole that allows as much as $23 billion in annual taxes from online sales to go uncollected.

“I've been saying it for the past 12 years,” said lead sponsor Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. “This bill is about fairness; it's about leveling the playing field for brick-and-mortar shops.”

The bill would empower states to require businesses with more than $1 million in out-of-state sales to collect taxes for products they sell on the Internet, in catalogs and through radio and TV ads. Under the legislation, the sales taxes would be sent to the states where a shopper lives.

Under current law, states can only require retailers to collect sales taxes if the merchant has a physical presence in the state. As a result, many online sales are tax-free.

Opponents, including some well-known conservative groups and the online retailer eBay, have vowed to keep up the fight in the House, where the path forward is less clear.

Arkansas Republican Rep. Steve Womack, the lead GOP sponsor of the House online sales tax bill, has said he wants and expects it to proceed through the committee process, The Hill reported. The House version has collected more than 60 co-sponsors.

But the vote has Amazon.com's blessing, The Seattle Times reported.

The Seattle company's endorsement — coming from a chief beneficiary of the tax advantage the bill is intended to eliminate — is widely viewed as an acknowledgment that the days of tax-free shopping online are numbered.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.