The United States Senate overwhelmingly supported a tax on Internet sales today, voting 69-27 in favor of the Marketplace Fairness Act. The outcome was expected after a similar non-biding show of approval passed the Senate with roughly the same number of votes, despite extraordinary opposition from eBay and other major Internet organizations.
As we’ve written about before, supporters argue that tax-free Internet retailers have an unfair advantage over their physical counterparts and it robs states of billions in revenue. Opponents counter that the current bill would create an unwieldy tax code labyrinth, which would be forced on startups and Internet retailers before software technology could manage the new tax.
The bill now heads to the House of Representatives for possible revision. TechCrunch’s sources on Capitol Hill say that broad support in the Senate makes it difficult for House members to oppose the legislation, but it may be modified to increase the threshold for businesses who have to collect online taxes, from $1M in revenue to $10M
This is one of those laws that affects almost everyone directly. I’m kinda surprised there’s not more of an uproar.
Update 2: House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte just released a statement (The Internet Sales Tax bill most likely will go through the Judiciary Subcommittee, so his views are very influential):
“I do not believe the Marketplace Fairness Act is sufficiently simplified yet. While it attempts to make tax collection simpler, it still has a long way to go. There is still not uniformity on definitions and tax rates, so businesses would still be forced to wade through potentially hundreds of tax rates and a host of different tax codes and definitions. … I am open to considering legislation concerning this topic but these issues, along with others, would certainly have to be addressed. The Committee will also look at alternatives that could enable states to collect sales tax revenues without opening the door to aggressive state action against out-of-state companies.”
Update: the vote 70-24 reported earlier was for a managers amendment. I’ve updated the article for the final vote on the actual bill.