In a letter to House and Senate leadership this evening, America's leading retailers expressed their opposition to the Customs Reauthorization Act due to the last-minute insertion of the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA) in the final conference report. Retailers strongly believe that PITFA should only be passed in concert with legislation closing the online sales tax loophole, which for more than two decades has given online only retailers special tax treatment over Main Street retailers.
"The conference committee’s decision to include PITFA in unrelated trade legislation represents a remarkable departure from the regular order commitments House and Senate leaders have made and that many Members have so exalted. Further, the move robs Main Street retailers, the backbone of local economies, of the logical companion to bipartisan legislation to level the sales tax playing field," said RILA in a letter to Members of Congress.
Despite Senate passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act in 2013 on a strong bipartisan vote, House leadership has refused to allow a vote on similar legislation for almost three years.
"As local retailers work to survive back home this holiday season, some Members of Congress are going to great lengths to continue preferential treatment for a select few online retailers," said Jennifer Safavian, executive vice president for government affairs with the Retail Industry Leaders Association. "We are urging all Members of Congress who support local businesses to oppose this 11th hour deal, and support a plan to pass both PITFA and legislation that gives all retailers a fair shot in the free market."
December 9, 2015
Dear Member of Congress:
I am writing to urge that you oppose the conference report on H.R. 644, Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, which contains a non-germane provision permanently extending the Internet Tax Freedom Act (PIFTA).
The conference committee’s decision to include PITFA in unrelated trade legislation represents a remarkable departure from the regular order commitments House and Senate leaders have made and that many Members have so exalted. Further, the move robs Main Street retailers, the backbone of local economies, of the logical companion to bipartisan legislation to level the sales tax playing field.
Main Street retailers have long maintained that requiring some businesses to collect taxes while giving others a free pass amounts to little more than a government subsidy. Online sellers no longer need nor deserve the special treatment they receive. The decoupling of the two issues is an affront to retailers who have worked in good faith with supporters, leaders and committees on both sides of the Capitol to address constructive concerns raised by Members.
On behalf of retailers across America, we urge you to oppose H.R. 644, because of the 12-member conference committee’s decision to bypass regular order. Please vote NO when the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act Conference report is voted on later this week.
Sandra L. Kennedy
RILA is the trade association of the world's largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.