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Marketplace Fairness Act, the Comeback Kid?


Maybe, just maybe, something will happen with the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 (MFA) in 2013.

MFA made headlines last spring when it passed the Senate in a notable 69 to 27 vote. Supporters were optimistic as it entered the House, even as detractors vowed continue the fight. But then nothing happened, and nothing happened some more.

Now it seems that something might happen after all, though it remains to be seen whether supporters or detractors will be pleased. According to an article in Governing (a non-partisan information source), one of the sponsors of MFA "is urging the media, fellow members of Congress, state and local lawyers--just about anyone who will listen--that while his legislation faces hurdles, it's not dead yet."

Representative Steve Womack (R-ARK) knows that pressing issues need to be addressed in the House: mounting tensions with Syria, for example. But, he points out, "that doesn't mean other very meaningful issues facing our country should be set aside and just deferred."

Taxing Internet sales is not particularly popular. According to conservative polls by the National Taxpayers Union and R Street, only one-third of voters polled support it. (Politico). Even Rep. Womack admits he doesn't want to pay more taxes. However, he added, "The last thing I want to see is tumbleweeds blowing down Main Street in my community." His concern is valid, if colorfully described; untaxed Internet sales do impact Main Street sales and state coffers.

Yet in order for the MFA to comeback this fall, it has to woo the gatekeeper, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). In a statement issued after the Senate passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act, the Congressman from Virginia expressed concerns that the bill isn't "sufficiently simplified… ." He said he was "open to considering legislation concerning this topic," but that he also wanted to consider "alternatives that could enable states to collect sales tax revenues without opening the door to aggressive state action against out-of-state companies."

Is your business prepared for the type of sales tax changes being discussed by lawmakers? Are you sure?


Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.