Alliance for Main Street Fairness

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The Alliance for Main Street Fairness is an advocacy group based in the United States of America dedicated to ending what it sees as unfair tax advantages for online-only retailers with respect to the collection of sales taxes. The group supports the Marketplace Fairness Act (S.1832;112th Congress). Members include retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Sears.

Mission[edit]

The Alliance for Main Street Fairness says it "is a coalition of business owners and concerned citizens who want to bring sales tax laws up-to-date and level the playing field so all businesses can compete fairly." They argue, "Current law dates from an era before people shopped online. A loophole in this law allows online-only retailers to avoid collecting sales taxes at the point of sale, unlike brick-and-mortar retailers. This gives online-only retailers an unfair advantage over their Main Street competitors, which costs local communities jobs and tax revenue and creates significant unfairness in the marketplace for businesses and consumers alike." [1]

Issues[edit]

Alibaba[edit]

The Alliance for Main Street Fairness purchased radio and television ads in December 2014 calling for Congress to end what the group called "special tax treatment" for Alibaba and other e-commerce sites. This was one of the largest public relations campaigns ever conduct against a Chinese company in the United States. [2]

Borders Books[edit]

Main article: Borders Books

In a statement on the bankruptcy and liquidation of Borders Books AMSF wrote, "Special treatment for Amazon.com is decimating job providers like Borders and countless small businesses across the country. It is simply not fair that one business is able to operate with a government-sanctioned advantage that allows it to undercut its competitors forcing lost jobs and business closures. Lawmakers need to level the playing field and end the special deal that gives Amazon a competitive advantage over Main Street.” [3]

State legislation[edit]

Illinois[edit]

Following the March 2011 signature of Illinois' Main Street Fairness Act into law by Governor Pat Quinn, the Alliance issued a press release stating that "In Illinois, small business retailers are the backbone of the state's economy and are vital components of the community, and they have been operating at a significant disadvantage as online-only retailers have exploited a decades-old loophole to gain an unfair and artificial advantage in the marketplace. By signing HB 3659, Quinn ensures that all businesses will compete on the same playing field, collecting the sales tax at the point of purchase whether they operate on the Internet or in Illinois' communities." [4] Quinn said, "This law will put Illinois-based businesses on a level playing field, protect and create jobs and help us continue to grow in the global marketplace."[5]

Pennsylvania[edit]

In May 2011 the Alliance announced its intention to hand deliver a petition to each state legislator in order to encourage them to support legislation mandating sales taxes for online retailers.[6][dead link] In June 2011 the Alliance launched an ad campaign in Pennsylvania featuring television, radio, and newspaper ads across the state.[7]

In December 2011 Pennsylvania changed its rules regarding what constitutes a physical nexus within the state to require more businesses to collect and remit sales tax.[citation needed] Pennsylvania has also added a line on its 2011 income tax form for taxpayers to report online purchases and pay use tax.[8] In February 2012 the Pennsylvania state government predicted that it would collect an additional $40 million in sales tax from internet retailers.[8] Out-of-state online retailers, such as Amazon.com, were granted a one-time reprieve until September 2012 after which they could face enforcement action.[8] The Alliance for Main Street Fairness praised all of these actions.[8]

South Carolina[edit]

In May 2011, in response to Amazon agreeing to notify South Carolina customers by email that sales tax was owed on their purchases but that shoppers would still be responsible for paying the tax by themselves,[9][dead link] the Alliance called the vote “just one step in the process," but "unfortunate that the majority of the House favors special deals for one prospective retailer at the expense of [the] state’s existing employers and their 375,000 employees."[10][dead link]

The Alliance expressed disapproval of the South Carolina Senate's approval of this arrangement and called on Governor Nikki Haley to veto the legislation stating that, “this special exemption only passed after backroom deals and last-minute promises were made by Amazon officials – something which should disappoint everyone interested in transparency and good government."[11][dead link]

Tennessee[edit]

In March 2011 the Alliance ran advertisements opposing the efforts of Tennessee officials, including Gov. Bill Haslam, to finalize an agreement with Amazon.com that would exempt the company from collecting sales taxes in exchange for opening two distribution centers in the state. “Why would the state let Amazon get away with not collecting and paying the biggest source of revenue in Tennessee: its sales tax?” one ad said.[12]

In May 2011 the Alliance responded to testimony given to the state Senate Finance Committee by Amazon officials regarding their arrangement with the Department of Revenue for an exemption from collecting Tennessee sales taxes saying that “Secret, backroom deals would hurt Main Street jobs and give an out-of-state company a competitive advantage over mom-and-pop shops across our state.”[13][dead link]

In June 2011, state attorney general Roy Cooper affirmed the constitutionality of a proposed bill in the state legislature that building distribution centers in a state creates a physical presence or nexus sufficient to force retailers like Amazon to collect sales tax on goods it ships to Tennessee residents.[14] The Alliance for Main Street Fairness called the attorney general’s opinion “encouraging news for the thousands of Tennessee small business owners who don’t want our elected officials to give Amazon special treatment.”[14]

Texas[edit]

In May 2011 despite Governor Rick Perry's veto of House Bill 2403, which would have taxed online sales in the same manner as sales made by traditional retailers. the Alliance for Main Street Fairness expressed confidence that bill would eventually pass in some form.[15][15]

State Senators Duncan and Shapiro amended Senate Bill 1811, a fiscal bill intended to fund education and balance the state budget, to insert the same language and the Alliance, calling for its passage, cited a study by Angelos Angelou that estimated that Texas loses $774 million in tax revenue due to the failure of online retailers to collect sales tax and full compliance with sales and use tax laws would create 13,000 jobs in the state.[15]

Virginia[edit]

In January 2012 the Alliance announced its support for legislation introduced by State Senator Frank Wagner that would require companies with a distribution center, warehouse, fulfillment center, office, or other such location in the Commonwealth of Virginia to collect and remit sales tax.[16]

In January 2012 Virginia and Amazon.com reached an agreement regarding the collection of sales tax on purchases made by Virginia residents. Under the agreement Amazon will begin collecting sales tax on purchases made by Virginia residents on 1 September 2013. Amazon will begin collecting sales tax ten months after opening distribution centers in Chesterfield and Dinwiddle counties.[17]

Membership[edit]

Alliance for Main Street members include large retailers such as Amazon.com, AutoZone, Best Buy, Home Depot, Sears, Target, and Wal-Mart.[18][19][20] The American Booksellers Association, a trade association of independent booksellers with retail storefronts, is a member. [21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About the Alliance for Main Street Fairness". Alliance for Main Street Fairness. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Chan, Edwin (1 December 2014). "U.S. retailers warn of Chinese giant Alibaba's impact in U.S.". Reuters. Retrieved 6 December.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ Boog, Jason (19 July 2011). "Amazon Advantage Blamed in Borders Liquidation". Galley Cat, Media Bistro. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "Alliance For Main Street Fairness Praises Pat Quinn" (Press release). Alliance for Main Street Fairness. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  5. ^ "Illinois governor signs bill targeting Internet sales". Reuters. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  6. ^ "Hundreds Of Pennsylvania Businesses Simply Want Fairness" (Press release). Alliance for Main Street Fairness. 24 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  7. ^ BRENT BURKEY (1 June 2011). "Alliance launches Pa. ad campaign for online sales tax". Central Penn Business Journal. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Pa. expects $40 million from tax on Internet retailers". Public Opinion. 13 February. Retrieved 23 February 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ Lisa Miller (30 May 2011). "SC Senate Strikes Compromise To Get Amazon Back". WFAE. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "Main Street Responds To House Vote Battle For Brick-And-Mortar Business Continues" (Press release). Alliance for Main Street Fairness. 18 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  11. ^ "Main Street Responds To South Carolina Senate Vote" (Press release). Alliance for Main Street Fairness. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  12. ^ "Group pushes back on Amazon tax deal". Nashville Business Journal. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  13. ^ "What Is Amazon Trying To Hide? Online Retailer’s Testimony Brings More Questions Than Answers" (Press release). Alliance for Main Street Fairness. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  14. ^ a b by Mike Pare (29 June 2011). "Attorney General: State can force Amazon on taxes". Times Free Press. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  15. ^ a b c "Despite Veto, Main Street Businesses Confident E-Fairness Language Will Be Passed In Fiscal Matters Bill During Special Session" (Press release). Alliance for Main Street Fairness. 31 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  16. ^ "Virginia legislation targets Amazon.com". WDBJ7.com. 30 January 2012. 
  17. ^ Web staff (22 February 2012). "Amazon.com will start collecting sales tax in Virginia". WTKR.com. 
  18. ^ Wal-Mart Welcomes Back 'Dirty Tricks' Republican Operative
  19. ^ http://www.geekwire.com/2011/guide-amazon-losing-tax-battle
  20. ^ Mark Albright (29 March 2011). "Retailers put new pressure on Amazon.com over sales taxes". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  21. ^ "SalesTax Fairness". American Booksellers Association. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 

External links[edit]