The Marketplace Fairness Act is a like a bad impressionist painting – it’s appealing at first glance, but the longer you stare the worse it looks. The Senate got around that problem today by making sure nobody had a chance to look too closely at this legislation. Thankfully for businesses and consumers, the House of Representatives won’t be so accommodating.
Today’s vote to limit debate on the ironically named Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) effectively ends any chance that the Senate will fix the measure’s many crippling flaws before they pass it over to the House.
Cash-strapped state executives and big-box-store lobbyists finally got what they have been working for, a measure that adds tax burdens on small and midsized businesses around the country, without forcing states to go through with the vexing task of actually simplifying their Byzantine tax codes. The MFA contains none of the simplifications identified by the True Simplification of Taxation coalition and is actually worse for consumers than the bad bill that failed to move last year. Read more
Some things are tough work. Like becoming an astronaut, finding the Higgs boson, or running a marathon. It’s also tough work to design an entirely new tax regime for the Internet.
Tackling tough jobs requires discipline, training and patience. Shortcuts may feel good, but they often lead to failure, embarrassment or can even get you hurt. Last week’s Senate vote on a non-binding resolution supporting a new Internet sales tax is a shortcut something akin to …rollerblading in a marathon. A finish line was ultimately crossed, but some folks looked pretty silly doing it and the victory cheer rings hollow.
Fortunately, last week’s debate included wisdom from Senators who understand that short-circuiting debate on such an important issue is bad policy. Senator Max Baucus reminded his colleagues that they were voting on a “revolutionary” proposal that raised more questions than it answered. Read more
It’s Valentines Day, so Senator Durbin (D-IL) presented a box of chocolates to his colleagues in Congress – in the form of his latest iteration of the Marketplace Fairness Act. But bite into any of the chocolates in this legislation, and you’ll taste only stale rhetoric that fails to deliver on promised simplifications.
The main thing you need to know about the new Marketplace Fairness Act is that it is the same as the old Marketplace Fairness Act — including the same false promises and flaws. In the few weeks since the last Congress wisely declined to enact new Internet sales taxes, supporters have done nothing to make their scheme more appealing to businesses and consumers who’ll have to pay the taxes.
The legislation introduced today sweeps aside the decade-long “Streamlined Sales Tax” project that sought to simplify thousands of conflicting state and local tax systems. Instead, this bill would create an expensive and onerous new tax regime for any business that uses the Internet or catalogs to reach customers around the country. Read more
‘[dropcap1]T[/dropcap1]is the season for reason, it seems, as lawmakers have stepped back from the brink of a deeply flawed Internet sales tax that threatened online consumers and sellers while promising very little revenue to states.
Last month, despite an 11th-hour lobbying drive by state governments and big box retailers, the Senate wisely declined to attach the ironically named “Marketplace Fairness Act” to a must-pass Defense authorization bill. But while this battle was won, the war goes on, as proponents of the tax are rallying their forces for a legislative push in 2013.
What is increasingly clear is that supporters of the tax have zero interest in actually fixing the impossible patchwork of state sales taxes. Instead, advocates have done the political calculus and determined that states are hungry enough for revenue that they’ll grasp at anything that generates it, especially if it can be sold as something other than a new tax. Read more