Congress should tackle tax fairness, AVMA urges in letter

By: Gina Luke, assistant director, AVMA Governmental Relations DivisionTax Fairness

AVMA had high hopes last January that lawmakers would tackle their unfinished work from the 2012 election, but unfortunately, important items that we care about, such as tax reform, did not get addressed by the end of last year. Now, AVMA along with more than 300 organizations, are calling on Congress once again to tackle the important issue of tax reform in a letter sent to House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) on Jan. 7 in support of the Marketplace Fairness Act.

As part of the Marketplace Fairness Coalition, AVMA seeks to level the playing field between brick-and-mortar businesses and online retailers. AVMA is concerned about this issue because many veterinarians are small business owners and are at an unfair disadvantage when it comes to providing the products and medications that our nation’s pets need and deserve. This legislation will ensure that all businesses—both down the street and across the Internet—play by the same tax rules.

The Senate’s version of the Marketplace Fairness Act (S. 743) passed last May and authorizes the states to enforce state and local sales and use tax laws for remote online sellers so long as the states simplify how they administer and collect their taxes and exempt online and mail-order retailers that make less than $1 million a year nationwide. President Obama supports this version of the bill.

In the House, Goodlatte unveiled his seven principles for marketplace fairness last September stating that: it should not create new taxes; all businesses should be treated equally; those facing taxes and compliance should have avenues to protest; the bill should be simple and inexpensive; the federal government should not force states to impose a sales tax; governments should be encouraged to compete with one another to keep the taxes low, and the privacy rights of customers should be protected.

Unfortunately, the House Judiciary Committee has not yet brought its bill (H.R. 684) to a vote, which is why more than 300 signatories representing 3 million businesses, associations and organizations across the country sent a letter to the chairman this week “urging immediate action on legislation to create marketplace fairness and make the 2013 holiday shopping season the last where Main Street businesses must compete at a government-created price disadvantage.”

The letter states:

“Online shopping is popular with consumers and sellers alike. The rapid growth of e-commerce should benefit online sellers as well as Main Street businesses that also sell online. However, the special treatment of remote sellers distorts this market and puts many local brick-and-mortar businesses at a competitive disadvantage. IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark reports that online shopping this Cyber Monday leapt by 20.6 percent over last year. This incredible growth underscores the importance of Congressional action to ensure government tax policy does not disrupt basic free market competition.


Legislation that levels the playing field while establishing important protections for businesses and consumers will ensure a healthy and competitive marketplace for decades to come.  We believe it is crucial for Congress to address this problem this year to protect millions of jobs.”

Despite inaction by Congress, the issue of marketplace fairness continues to garner attention across the country with the most recent action taken by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Dec. 17. Pennsylvania state lawmakers overwhelmingly passed (189-10) a resolution that urges Congress and the president to adopt the legislation (see House Resolution 571).

For more information, see AVMA’s legislative agenda on small business issues or visit the Marketplace Fairness Coalition website.

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