Reid signals he'll bring sales tax bill to Senate floor
Brendan Sasso - 04/17/13 11:45 AM ET
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to move an online sales tax bill directly to the Senate floor, skipping the committee process.
He filed a motion on Tuesday night to begin the process of putting the bill, the Marketplace Fairness Act, on the Senate calendar. The bill could come up for a vote as early as next week.
The move would snub Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who has insisted that the legislation should go through his committee. Baucus has expressed concern with the bill, but said he would be willing to consider it as part of broader negotiations over tax reform.
Baucus's office did not respond to a request to comment.
Last month, 75 senators voted for a non-binding budget resolution amendment expressing support for allowing states to tax online purchases. Although the vote had no legal impact, it was an important demonstration of support for the proposal.
The Marketplace Fairness Act is backed by Sens. #$%$ Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).
Under current law, states can only collect sales taxes from retailers that have a physical presence in their state. People who order items online from another state are supposed to declare the purchases on their tax forms, but few do.
The Marketplace Fairness Act would empower states to tax online purchases but would exempt small businesses that earn less than $1 million annually from out-of-state sales.
Its supporters argue it would close an unfair loophole that benefits online retailers over local brick-and-mortar stores. Critics, including some online businesses and anti-tax groups, worry the legislation will be overly complicated to implement and will stifle online commerce.
David French, a lobbyist for the National Retail Federation, said he is "thrilled" with Reid's decision to move the