Case for Fairness

How We Got to Where We Are Today

1984: The original Macintosh personal computer is released
1990: The first World Wide Web server and browser are created
 
1992: Supreme Court creates online sales tax loophole with Quill Corp. v. North Dakota decision

In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota that complex state and local sales tax rules unduly burdened interstate commerce. As a result, states cannot make an out-of-state seller collect sales taxes unless that seller has a physical presence, such as a store or warehouse, in the purchaser's state.

However, the Supreme Court also ruled that, according to the Constitution, Congress may grant states the authority to require all retailers to collect sales taxes and that Congress is in a better position to fix the problem. Although online shopping didn't exist when this ruling was made, it has disrupted the ability of local retailers to compete fairly with online sellers.

1995: Jeff Bezos launches Amazon.com
 
1996: eBay founded as AuctionWeb in San Jose, CA
1999: The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA) was created

In response to the Supreme Court Quill decision, 44 states, the District of Columbia, local governments and the business community came together to create the Streamline Sales and Use Tax Agreement. The purpose is to simplify sales and use tax collection and administration by retailers and states.

The Agreement minimizes costs and administrative burdens on retailers that collect sales tax, particularly retailers operating in multiple states. It encourages "remote sellers" selling over the Internet and by mail order to collect tax on sales to customers living in the Streamlined states. The Agreement ensures that all retailers can conduct their business in a fair, competitive environment.

 
2003: Congress introduces the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Act

On October 15, 2003, Senator Mike Enzi introduced S. 1736, the Streamlined Sales and Use tax Act. The bill would have levelled the playing field for local retailers by granting the states that were SSUTA members the ability to require out-of-state sellers to collect sales taxes. The bill included a small business exemption. There was a companion bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 3184, introduced by Congressman Ernest Istook.

2010: Georgia becomes the 24th state to join SSUTA
 
2011: E-commerce sales reach nearly $200 billion.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales were up 16.1% over 2010, compared to overall retails that saw 7.9% growth in 2011.

2013: Bipartisan S. 743 passes the Senate

The Marketplace Fairness Act was introduced on February 14, 2013 as companion bills in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. These bipartisan measures levelled the playing field for local retailers by granting the states the authority to require out-of-state sellers to collect sales taxes.

The bills provided a small business exemption and more flexibility for states than previous versions. On May 6, 2013, the Senate version of the legislation passed as S. 743 with a bipartisan vote of 69-27. The legislation died due to inaction by the House at the end of the last Congress.

 
2014: National poll finds that 70% of Americans support federal legislation

On September 10, 2014, the International Council of Shopping Centers releases the results of a national poll that found that a majority of Americans support federal legislation that would require online-only sellers to collect sales tax at the time of purchase. It also found that a majority of Americans believed that it was fairer to local retailers for online-only retailers to collect sales taxes.

2015: Congress considers legislation to level the playing field for local retailers

On March 10, a group of bipartisan Senators introduced S.698, the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015.

On June 15, a group of bipartisan Representatives introduced H.R. 2775, the Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2015.

 

Downloadable Version