NAMM Signatory with Coalition Concerning Marketplace Equity Act in US House

Contact Your Member of Congress Regarding Internet Sales Tax

Visit the Legislative Action Center to contact your member of Congress

July 30, 2012

The Honorable Lamar Smith
Chairman
Judiciary Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable John Conyers
Ranking Member
Judiciary Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515



Dear Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Conyers:

On behalf of the undersigned 209 companies and state and national trade associations, we are writing to thank the Judiciary Committee for holding a legislative hearing on H.R. 3179, the Marketplace Equity Act. The Committee's July 24, 2012, legislative hearing on e-fairness demonstrated the broad bipartisan support that the legislation has with the Committee. All of the witnesses indicated a willingness to resolve the important issues raised at the hearing and continue to move forward with a federal solution. Because the appropriate venue for working through these matters is the legislative process embodied in marking up the bill, we urge the Committee to proceed with this critical next step.

As we heard at the July 24 hearing, at issue is an outdated tax policy arising from the Supreme Court's 1992 Quill decision that says a state can only require a business with a physical presence in a state to collect sales taxes on purchases. Under current law, consumers are left with the burdensome and confusing requirement to self-report their use taxes. While this decision was determined prior to the invention of the Internet and e-commerce as we know it today, the Supreme Court called on Congress to exercise its authority under the Commerce Clause to address this inequality.

The effect of this outdated Supreme Court decision has been to put traditional brick and mortar retailers at a 5-10% price disadvantage over online retailers for the simple fact that they have a physical presence in a state. It therefore follows that this government-sponsored policy has the effect of penalizing local merchants for making investments in our communities by building stores, hiring locally, and paying property taxes.

Making matters worse, the recession and poor state of the economy over the past few years has had a disproportionate impact on brick and mortar businesses as states have sought to close their budget gaps by raising their sales taxes (and property taxes), which only further widens the disparity between brick and mortar stores and online-only retailers. The bipartisan Ravitch-Volker State Budget Crisis Task Force reported last week that as more and more sales are made through remote vendors, "In response to this erosion of the tax base, many states have raised tax rates substantially." The Ravitch-Volker Report goes on to conclude that this is a problem that "technology has foisted on states and localities," but that "Congress could solve this issue for all states..."

To that end, the Marketplace Equity Act would address this problem by simply requiring all merchants, regardless of whether they operate online or through a physical storefront, to collect the sales taxes that are rightfully owed to the state at the time of purchase. The legislation gives flexibility to the states with how they choose to simplify their sales tax regimes to make it easy for compliance, while providing safe harbors for businesses complying with the law and an exemption for truly small businesses. But more importantly, the proposed legislation returns to states the authority over their own sales tax laws and allows for the equal treatment of all businesses regardless of whether they compete online or through a physical store front.

In closing, we are grateful to the Committee for holding this second hearing on the e-commerce issue and now, specifically, the Marketplace Equity Act. As Congress has stood on the sidelines, states have been enacting their own policies to address this inequality, but only a federal solution would provide consistent, uniform rules of the road for all businesses as it relates to sales tax collection. That is why groups as diverse as the National Governors Association, Americans for Job Security and the International Association of Firefighters have joined with your Main Street retailers in urging Congress to pass e-fairness legislation. It does not make sense in today's digital age that the government would continue to treat two sets of competitors differently as it relates to state sales tax policies simply because one chooses to have a physical presence in a state. The Marketplace Equity Act strikes the right balance in solving this problem, and we urge the Committee to immediately proceed to mark-up the legislation.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned Companies and State and National Associations

NATIONAL TRADE ASSOCIATIONS
American Apparel and Footwear Association
American Booksellers Association
American Specialty Toy Retailing Association
American Veterinary Medical Association
Association for Christian Retail
California Association of College Store
Campus Stores of New England
Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute
College Stores Association of North Carolina
Consumer Electronics Association
Consumer Electronics Retailers Association
Food Marketing Institute
Independent Running Retailer Association
Institute of Real Management
International Council of Shopping Centers
Jewelers of America
Middle Atlantic College Stores
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
National Association of College Stores
NAMM, National Association of Music Merchants
NAIOP, Commercial Real Estate Development Association
National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts
National Association of Realtors
National Bicycle Dealers Association
National Grocers Association
National Home Furnishings Association
National Retail Federation
North American Retail Dealers Association
Outdoor Industry Association (OIA)
Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council
Professional Beauty Association
Real Estate Roundtable
Realtors Land Institute
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Soccer Dealer Association
Society of Industrial and Office Realtors
Southwest Association of College Bookstores
Tri-State Bookstore Association
World Floor Covering Association

STATE / LOCAL TRADE ASSOCIATIONS
Alabama Retail Association
Alabama College Bookstore Association
Alaska Veterinary Medical Association
Alliance of Wisconsin Retailers
Arizona Retailers Association
Arkansas Grocers and Retail Merchants Association
Association of Washington Business
California Business Properties Association
California Retailers Association
California Veterinary Medical Association
Carolinas Food Industry Council
Colorado Veterinary Medical Association
Colorado Retail Council
Connecticut Retail Merchants Association
Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, WA
Delaware Veterinary Medical Association
Florida Retail Federation
Georgia Retail Association
Georgia Veterinary Medical Association
Idaho Retailers Association
Idaho Veterinary Medical Association
Illinois Retail Merchants Association
Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association
Indiana Association of College Stores
Indiana Retail Council
Indiana Veterinary Medical Association
Iowa Retail Federation
Iowa Veterinary Medical Association
Kentucky Retail Federation
Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
Louisiana Retailers Association
Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association
Maine Merchants Association
Maine Veterinary Medical Association
Maryland Retailers Association
Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association
Michigan Association of College Stores
Michigan Retailers Association
Michigan Veterinary Medical Association
Minnesota Retail Association
Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association
Missouri Retailers Association
Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association
Nebraska Retail Federation
Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association
Nevada Veterinary Medical Association
New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association
New England Independent Booksellers Association
New Jersey Retail Merchants Association
New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association
New Mexico Retail Association
North Carolina Retail Merchants Association
North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association
North Dakota Retail Association
Ohio Association of College Stores
Ohio Council of Retail Merchants
Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association
Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association
Pennsylvania Retailers' Association
Retail Association of Mississippi
Retail Association of Nevada
Retail Council of New York State
Retail Merchants of Hawaii
Retailers Association of Massachusetts
Rhode Island Retail Federation
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
South Carolina Retail Merchants Association
South Carolina Association of Veterinarians
South Dakota Retailers Association
Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
Tennessee Association of College Stores
Tennessee Retail Association
Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association
Texas Retailers Association
Utah Food Industry Association
Utah Retail Merchants Association
Utah Veterinary Medical Association
Vermont Retail Association
Virginia Retail Merchants Association
Virginia Veterinary Medical Association
Washington Retail Association
Washington State Veterinary Medical Association
West Virginia Retailers Association
West Virginia Veterinary Medical Association
Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association
Wyoming Retail Association
Wyoming Veterinary Medical Association

COMPANIES
Abbell Credit Corporation, Chicago, IL
Acadia Realty Trust, White Plains, NY
AutoZone
Balliet's LLC
Barnes and Noble
Beall"s Inc.
Bed, Bath, & Beyond
Ben Bridge Jewelers, Seattle, WA
Best Buy
Blake Hunt Ventures, Inc., Danville, CA
John Bucksbaum, Private Real Estate Investor/Developer, Former Chairman and CEO of General Growth
Properties, Inc., Chicago, IL
Build-A-Bear Workshop(R), Saint Louis, MO
CBL & Associates Properties, Inc., Chattanooga, TN
Cencor Realty Services, Dallas, TX
Chesterfield Blue Valley, LLC, St. Louis, MO
The Container Store, Dallas, Texas
The CortiGilchrist Partnership, llc, Al Corti, Principal, San Diego, CA
Dick's Sporting Goods
DDR Corp., Beachwood, OH
DLC Management Corp., Tarrytown, NY
Donahue Schriber Realty Group, Costa Mesa, CA
Edens & Avant, Columbia, SC
Evergreen Devco, Inc., Glendale, CA
Fairfield Corporation, Battle Creek, MI
Federal Realty Investment Trust, Rockville, MD
FedTax, David Campbell, CEO
L. Michael Foley and Associates, LLC, La Jolla, CA
Foot Locker, Inc.
Forest City Enterprises, Inc., Cleveland, OH
Gap Inc., San Francisco, CA
Garrison Pacific Properties, San Rafael, CA
General Growth Properties, Chicago, IL
Glimcher Realty Trust, Columbus, OH
The Greeby Companies, Inc., Chicago, IL
Hart Realty Advisers, Inc., Simsbury, CT
David Hocker & Associates, Inc., Owensboro, Kentucky
D. Talmage Hocker, The Hocker Group, Louisville, KY
The Home Depot
Hutensky Capital Partners, Hartford, CT
Hy-Vee, Inc.
Jo-Ann Stores, Inc.
Kemper Development Company, Bellevue, WA
Kimco Realty Corporation, New Hyde Park, NY
Limited Brands, Columbus OH
Lowes Companies, Inc.
Malcolm Riley and Associates Los Angeles, CA
Mary Lou Fiala, CEO, Loft Unlimited, Ponte Vedra Beach Florida
Marketing Developments, Inc. MI
Meijer
The Neiman Marcus Group, Inc
Planning Developments, Inc. MI
JC Penney
Petco
The Pratt Company, Mill Valley, CA
The Rappaport Companies, McLean, VA
REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.)
Reininga Corporation, Healdsburg, CA
RMResources, LLC, Ann Arbor, MI
Sears Holdings Corporation
The Seayco Group, Bentonville, AK
The Sembler Company, St. Petersburg, FL
Simon Property Group, Indianapolis, IN
Staples, Inc.
Steiner + Associates LLC, Columbus, Ohio
Stirling Properties, Covington, LA
Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc., Greensboro, NC
Target Corporation
Taubman Realty Group, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Tractor Supply Company
Vestar Development Co. - Phoenix AZ
VPI-Commercial Realty LLC -- Knoxville, TN
Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, AR
Weingarten Realty Investors, Houston TX
The Weitzman Group, Dallas, Texas
Wendy's Company
Western Development Corporation, Washington, DC
Westfield, LLC., Los Angeles, CA
WDP Partners, LLC, Phoenix, AZ
Wolfe Properties, LLC, St. Louis, MO
Woolrich Inc., Woolrich, PA
Zumiez, Inc.

Cc: Members of the House Judiciary Committee


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