Senate Votes to End Debate on Marketplace Fairness Act

Decision sets stage for final vote on legislation Alexander says will “let states set their own tax policies”

Posted on April 25, 2013

“This is an
important Senate vote for states’ rights, for the prerogative of states to set
their own tax policies and to permit states to honor the conservative principle
of not picking winners and losers among taxpayers and businesses.” – Lamar
Alexander

WASHINGTON, April 24 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander
(R-Tenn.) today released the following statement on the U.S. Senate’s decision,
by a vote of 63-30, to end debate on the Marketplace Fairness Act, of which he
is a lead cosponsor:

“This is an important Senate vote for states’ rights, for
the prerogative of states to set their own tax policies and to permit states to
honor the conservative principle of not picking winners and losers among
taxpayers and businesses,” Alexander said.

The Marketplace Fairness Act would grant states the option
to require that remote businesses, such as those selling online or through
catalogs, collect sales taxes on purchases within their borders. Currently,
remote businesses do not have to collect sales taxes in the states they sell
into, while brick-and-mortar businesses do, creating a price disadvantage.

Tonight’s vote ended Senate debate on the bill, making way
for a final vote on the legislation. Alexander sponsored the legislation along
with Senators Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and a bipartisan
group of 26 other senators, including Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). The
legislation also has the support of Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, as
well as other Republican governors and conservative leaders across the country. 

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The Marketplace Fairness Act: Just the Facts

Here are the facts on the Marketplace Fairness Act, cosponsored by
Senators Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)
and a bipartisan group of 26 other senators.  The legislation is an 11-page
bill that received support from 75 senators during the recent budget
debate and was moved to the floor for debate Monday by a vote of 74-20.



Myth: This legislation would “tax the Internet.”

Fact:  There is a federal moratorium on state “Internet taxes,” which
Senator Alexander voted for and which will still be the law when the
Marketplace Fairness Act becomes law.

 

Myth: This legislation is a tax increase.

Fact:  The Marketplace Fairness Act is about state sales and use
taxes already owed, and does not increase taxes one penny.  In fact, by
allowing states to collect taxes from everyone who owes them, it will permit
states to reduce tax rates. Specifically, the bill would allow states to
require online and other out-of-state businesses to do the very same thing
in-state businesses have to do: collect sales and use taxes when they make
a sale within a state’s borders. Senator Alexander said in March that the
legislation “is about two words:  states’ rights. Do we have a Tenth
Amendment, or the spirit of a Tenth Amendment? Do we trust governors and
legislatures to make decisions, or do we not?”



Myth: This legislation is burdensome to businesses.

Fact:  Using existing Internet software, it is as easy for an
out-of-state seller to figure a purchaser’s tax as it is to look up the
weather. The software identifies the purchaser’s zip code, automatically
figures the tax and electronically sends the tax revenues to the appropriate
state. Many online sellers already do this. And the law does not apply to
any out-of-state seller with $1 million or less in remote sales.



Myth: The legislation is being rushed,
like the health care law.

Fact: This legislation is a Senate
rarity: it is only 11 pages in length, unlike the 2,700-page health care law. The
first version of this legislation was introduced in 2001. In 2012, both the
Senate Commerce and Finance committees held hearings on almost identical
legislation. The exact legislation was introduced on February 14, 2013, so
everyone has had plenty of time to read it. The problem has been that that the
Finance Committee would not consider the bill.



Myth: Conservatives oppose the
legislation.

Fact: Just the reverse is true. Al
Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, economist Art Laffer and
governors such as Jeb Bush, Mitch Daniels, Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Butch
Otter and Bill Haslam all have urged the Senate to enact states’ rights
legislation that would permit states to decide for themselves whether to
collect taxes from all the taxpayers who owe a tax, or just some of those
taxpayers. These governors do not like the current system, which requires
states to treat some taxpayers and businesses one way, and other taxpayers and
businesses a different way.  As Senator Alexander has said, “We have a
Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. States should not have to play
‘Mother, May I’ to the Congress about what their taxes structures should be.”
  

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