Senate Resuscitates E-Commerce Tax Bill, Again

After the House declined to take up the Marketplace Fairness Act, a new coalition of Senators is trying to put it back on the table.


The retail industry is not giving up on giving states the ability to tax e-commerce sales. This week, a bipartisan group of senators reintroduced the Marketplace Fairness Act.

Budget Committee Chairman Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) are leading the Senate group pushing for a bill that would give states the authority to collect sales tax on online sales placed within their states. Currently, states are limited to collecting sales tax from those entities that have a so-called in-state nexus — physical locations such as stores, warehouse facilities or other types of office space.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which lobbies on behalf of brick-and-mortar retailers, is among the groups pushing for the legislation.

“Ending the special tax treatment afforded to online-only retailers has been a top legislative priority for the retail industry, and it’s time to finish the job in 2015,” wrote senior vice president for government affairs, Joe Rinzel, in reaction to the bill’s reintroduction. “All retailers deserve a fair shot to compete in the free market without the government’s thumb on the scale.”

The legislation passed in the Senate in 2013, but was never taken up in the House. Several new co-sponsors have signed on this go-around, including Senators Roy Blunt, R-MO., Jack Reed, D-RI, Bob Corker R-TN., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI and Angus King, Jr., I-ME.

The bill is pitched as a fairness act that would level the playing field between local and online and catalog retailers. “Right now, thousands of local businesses are forced to do business at a competitive disadvantage because they have to collect sales and use taxes and remote sellers do not,” said Senator Enzi.

For more on who is in support and who’s not within the ecommerce industry, see our previous coverage Online Sales Tax: Why E-Commerce Companies Are On Both Sides Of The Debate.

About The Author

As Third Door Media’s paid media reporter, Ginny Marvin writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies and can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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