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My Turn: Ayotte disingenuous on Marketplace Fairness Act

In her recent “My Turn” column (Monitor, July 22), Sen. Kelly Ayotte suggests that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Dick Durbin are behind the Marketplace Fairness Act, which she goes on to describe as a burdensome tax collection grab from states across the country that will dramatically harm New Hampshire-based businesses that sell products online.

After reading the article, I question whether Ayotte is actually familiar with the bill or is simply fear-mongering on behalf of a specific business or contributor, as she conveniently left out a few key details about the legislation.

The Marketplace Fairness Act was actually introduced by Republican Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming and was co-sponsored by five other Republican senators, all of whom Ayotte typically votes in lockstep with on other legislation.

Additionally, the legislation has a “small-seller” exception and would not affect businesses with online sales less than $1 million a year to states in which they would normally not be required to collect sales tax.

Supporters of the bill include most of the country’s retailers, who are required to collect these taxes.

Under current law, large internet sellers have an advantage over local merchants by not having to collect sales taxes like the local merchants.

This bill is not designed to hit mom and pop shops selling a few trinkets online. Its intent is to make the big online retail operations compete fairly with local businesses.

And most of the large online retailers it would affect are more than capable of handling the “burden” of reporting and paying the sales taxes fairly due.

It’s disingenuous of Ayotte to suggest that this legislation is being driven by the Democratic leadership when it was introduced by her own party and enjoys broad support from Republicans.

Maybe Ayotte should spend more time reviewing the legislation to find out why so many in her own party support the bill and less time writing op-ed pieces filled with partisan rancor and scare tactics.

(Scott Metzger lives in Hopkinton.)

Legacy Comments16

This is about government wanting to get more money to spend and ultimately waste. Businesses, especially brick and mortar stores are trying to gasp for their last breath of air as they can't compete with most online retail stores. It seems to me that this is a state by state issue, not a federal issue. Let the states make the laws and sue in courts if they want this revenue.

Obviously the writer has never operated an online store. One million dollars in sales is a very borderline operation. Margins are very low for smaller stores as they have an extra layer of distribution (wholesalers) that large retailers don't have as well as higher shipping costs. The owner of a typical $2M operation is already working 60+ hours a week, handling sales during the day and accounting at night. Now the democrats would like to have him/her collect sales taxes for every taxing district in the US, not only including states but some cities and counties as well and then fill out forms and write checks to the hundreds of taxing jurisdictions. If a customer from California walks into a NH retailer and buys something, the retailer collects no taxes. If that same customer orders the same product on line from a NH retailer, possibly the same retailer as most have an online presence as well as a store, this bill would have the retailer collect state, city and county sales tax and then remit that money to the various agencies. Multiply that by a few thousand transactions and you can just imagine the bookkeeping nightmare. This is a bill that could put a lot of small businesses out of business and its sole purpose is to grab more revenue from taxpayers. Of course retailers like Amazon support the bill, it will eliminate competition.

A few notes: 1) this is a bipartisan bill; 2) if you don't like the exemption, increase it to $5 million--the point is not to burden small businesses; 3) one million in sales is actually not a bad number at all! Most retailers in downtown Concord never come near it; 4) if software can calculate your shipping costs and shipping time when you enter a zip code, it can do the same with sales tax. Our poor overworked $2 million-in-sales entrepreneurs won't have to break out the abacus, and indeed they won't have to break a sweat. This is 2014. Opponents of this bill don't understand that Internet businesses do not need this kind of help anymore. It's the physical retailers--you know, the ones who now pay for our schools, advertise in our brochures, pay to maintain roads and bridges, keep our downtowns vibrant, etc.--who need the help, against rapacious giants online who do none of those things but instead just suck money out of communities without giving back. If start-ups can only succeed through a strategy of tax avoidance, when their traditional competitors already pay their fair share, then those start-ups deserve to fail.

capt quote:: "...Now the democrats would like to have him/her collect sales taxes for every taxing district in the US,..." is typical of the right facing group-Ignore what has been stated. The article writer specified: "...The Marketplace Fairness Act was actually introduced by Republican Sen. Michael Enzi of Wyoming and was co-sponsored by five other Republican senators, all of whom Ayotte typically votes in lockstep with on other legislation..." capthall-you really need to study what you are commenting on!!

Well, one of us does. Senate bill S.336, as of April 23, 2013, had 29 cosponsors - 22 Democrats, 6 Republicans, and 1 independent.

Michael, This particular sales tax doesn't stay in NH to help pay for schools, etc. It is sent to an out of state taxing jurisdiction. And you are not doing Concord's smaller retail stores any favors by supporting this bill. Many, like Gibson's bookstore and Concord Camera, also maintain web sites that sell their products. There are also a number of web sites that specialize in selling products made in NH. You'd like to have a NH company that sells products made in NH, employing NH people, forced to collect tax for New York and every other state and city that has a sales tax. And calculating the tax is not the problem. Agreed that any shopping cart software can do that calculation. It's the remitting of the sales tax that is the problem. That is a bookkeeping nightmare. Kelly Ayotte is dead on. This bill places a huge burden on NH business with zero benefit to the business or the state. This bill has nothing to do with fairness or competition. The current lack of online sales tax is offset by shipping charges. It’s all about more tax revenue for the various governments, all of which are outside of our state borders.

We'll just have to agree to disagree. But one note, if the driving force behind this bill is rapacious governments looking for more dough to spend, then how to explain the wide range of businesses, from the smallest to the largest, who are working so hard to help the bill pass? Are they all dupes of the government? Or are they hoping to level the playing field against competitors who enjoy an unfair price advantage?

They can't compete on pricing in most instances now. Those businesses are NOT internet businesses, they are companies struggling to compete now.

Lets talk about a spending Spree about your great president George Bush. 2 Trillion dollars were spent on a useless war in Iraq. 4000 american were killed. Why did we go to war? I am still waiting for the answer from the Republican party. They will dance around the question.

debating a liberal is like debating which cheese makes up the moon..... incorrect in its original premises

Debating a conservative is like howling at the moon-it gets the same response (and over and over) ROTFLMAO

Hey folks I have another stalker - Yipppppeeeeee - its working we are getting to live rent free in their minds 90's

Clinton on Sept. 10, 2001: I could have killed bin Laden but 'I didn't'

The country already spends 3.4 Trillion - How much more does a reader think they need? Just 10 years ago it was 2.4 Trillion. Maybe Mr Metzger should spend more time reviewing the democrats spending spree to find out why so many in her own party support the bill and less time writing pieces filled with partisan rancor and scare tactics.

disingenuous "not truly honest or sincere : giving the false appearance of being honest or sincere" " Ayotte typically votes in lockstep "

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