The Marketplace Fairness Act currently before Congress would allow states to tax online retail sales. The measure's most surprising supporter: Amazon.com.
Brick-and-mortar retailers have long complained that e-commerce sites enjoy an unfair advantage since they don't have to collect state sales taxes, allowing them to offer lower prices. The Marketplace Equity Act would change that -- and it's gaining momentum.
Most people pay their taxes voluntarily, but with at least one type of tax, millions of Americans break the law every year -- and many probably never realize it. Now, states in desperate need of more revenue are trying to do something about that.
It sometimes seems like every new idea Amazon has dreamed up lately has been designed to help it lose money more efficiently. But the truth is more subtle: If it doesn't take these short-term hits now, it's destined to get crushed in a few years when the tax men come a-calling.
With the 2012 election season looming, the retail sector is getting vocally political for the first time. The National Retail Federation has launched "Retail Means Jobs," a year-long, $10 million advocacy campaign designed to push for retail-friendly policies in Washington.
Amazon has offered a $300 million investment and the promise of 5,000 jobs in the state of Texas in exchange for a reprieve on collecting sales tax on purchases made by Texans. It's just one of many similar deals being offered by the e-commerce giant, and Texas is said to be considering it.
Is your state considering imposing an Internet sales tax? Faced with staggering budget deficits, many states are proposing legislation that will force out-of-state retailers to collect state sales tax from online shoppers.