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, Sears, and thousands of small retailers.


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]



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]


AMSF criticized Amazon's Price Check app and Price Check Day promotion. The AMSF stated, "This app is simply another ploy by Amazon to exploit the loophole that allows them to evade collecting state sales taxes.”[3] AMSF also stated, "no retailer can compete with the special treatment" Amazon receives by not being required to collect sales taxes.[4]

Borders Books[edit]

In a statement on the bankruptcy and liquidation of Borders Books AMSF wrote, "Special treatment for 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.” [5]

Marketplace Fairness Act[edit]

After eBay implicitly endorsed an exemption for businesses with $30 million or less in annual sales, AMSF attacked the online auctioneer. saying that it was only trying to protect the largest firms selling from its site.[6]

AMSF released a video in late 2014 in support of the Marketplace Fairness Act. The video showcased testimonials from conservative groups and intellectuals supporting "e-fairness." The video includes a brief statement from economist Art Laffer. Laffer released a study touting the benefits of treating online and offline commerce equally. He said that the Marketplace Fairness Act would give states the ability to reduce other taxes.[7]

AMSF criticized Senator Ted Cruz in a BuzzFeed post for his opposition to the Marketplace Fairness Act. AMSF claimed that Cruz had "flip-flopped" on his conservative principles by supporting special tax treatment for online retailers. “While Ted Cruz gallivants across the country giving speeches on the American dream,” the post reads, “he denies it to the local small business owners back home.” In its post AMSF also stated, "Ted Cruz works to tilt the free market in favor of big online retailers LIKE ALIBABA..."[8]

State legislation[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." [9] 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."[10]


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.[11] In June 2011 the Alliance launched an ad campaign in Pennsylvania featuring television, radio, and newspaper ads across the state.[12]

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.[13] In February 2012 the Pennsylvania state government predicted that it would collect an additional $40 million in sales tax from internet retailers.[13] Out-of-state online retailers, such as, were granted a one-time reprieve until September 2012 after which they could face enforcement action.[13] The Alliance for Main Street Fairness praised all of these actions.[13]

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,[14] 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."[15]

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."[16]


In March 2011 the Alliance ran advertisements opposing the efforts of Tennessee officials, including Gov. Bill Haslam, to finalize an agreement with 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.[17]

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.”[18]

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.[19] 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.”[19]


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.[20][20]

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.[20]


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.[21]

In January 2012 Virginia and 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.[22]


Alliance for Main Street members include large retailers such as, AutoZone, Best Buy, Home Depot, Sears, Target, and Wal-Mart but also has thousands of small-business members.[23][24][25] The American Booksellers Association, a trade association of independent booksellers with retail storefronts, is a member.[26][27] AMSF has a Small Business Advisory Board with representatives from small retailers across the country.[28]

See also[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 1 June 2018. 
  3. ^ Johnson, Dennis (9 December 2012). "Outraged booksellers, other retail groups, respond to Amazon's "Price Check Day"". Melville House. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Chang, Andrea (7 December 2011). "Retail groups lash out after Amazon announces Price Check app promotion". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  5. ^ Boog, Jason (19 July 2011). "Amazon Advantage Blamed in Borders Liquidation". Galley Cat, Media Bistro. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Online Sales Cost Cities And Counties Billions In Taxes, Mayors Say". National Public Radio. Washington, DC. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2015. 
  7. ^ O'Bannon, Isaac M. (18 November 2014). "Business Group Urges GOP to Reconsider Marketplace Fairness Act". CPA Practice Advisor. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  8. ^ Railey, Kimberly (3 December 2014). "U.S. retailers attack Ted Cruz as friend of China's Alibaba". The Dallas Morning News. Dallas, Texas. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "Alliance For Main Street Fairness Praises Pat Quinn" (Press release). Alliance for Main Street Fairness. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-25. 
  10. ^ "Illinois governor signs bill targeting Internet sales". Reuters. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  11. ^ "Hundreds Of Pennsylvania Businesses Simply Want Fairness" (Press release). Alliance for Main Street Fairness. 24 May 2011. Archived from the original on August 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  12. ^ BRENT BURKEY (1 June 2011). "Alliance launches Pa. ad campaign for online sales tax". Central Penn Business Journal. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  13. ^ 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)
  14. ^ Lisa Miller (30 May 2011). "SC Senate Strikes Compromise To Get Amazon Back". WFAE. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  15. ^ "Main Street Responds To House Vote Battle For Brick-And-Mortar Business Continues" (Press release). Alliance for Main Street Fairness. 18 May 2011. Archived from the original on August 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  16. ^ "Main Street Responds To South Carolina Senate Vote" (Press release). Alliance for Main Street Fairness. 27 May 2011. Archived from the original on June 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  17. ^ "Group pushes back on Amazon tax deal". Nashville Business Journal. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  18. ^ "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. Archived from the original on August 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  19. ^ a b Mike Pare (29 June 2011). "Attorney General: State can force Amazon on taxes". Times Free Press. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ "Virginia legislation targets". 30 January 2012. 
  22. ^ Web staff (22 February 2012). " will start collecting sales tax in Virginia". 
  23. ^ Wal-Mart Welcomes Back 'Dirty Tricks' Republican Operative
  24. ^
  25. ^ Mark Albright (29 March 2011). "Retailers put new pressure on over sales taxes". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 31 March 2011. 
  26. ^ "SalesTax Fairness". American Booksellers Association. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  27. ^ O'Bannon, Isaac M. (22 April 2013). "Small Businesses Irked by eBay Action Against Online Sales Tax Fairness Bill". CPA Practice Advisor. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  28. ^ "Level the playing field for all business". Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 

External links[edit]