The U.S. Senate on Monday approved legislation to allow states to collect sales taxes on items sold online or through catalogs, and senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker on Monday said they supported the bill.
Known as the Marketplace Fairness Act, the legislation passed the Senate in a 69-27 vote. A Tennessee Republican, Alexander was a lead co-sponsor of the 11-page bill.
It still has to pass the U.S. House of Representatives, where antitax forces have vowed to kill it, according to the New York Times.
Alexander said the bill would grant states the option to require that remote businesses, such as those selling online or through catalogs, collect sales taxes on purchases within their borders.
“Currently, remote businesses do not have to collect sales taxes on behalf of the states they sell into, while brick-and-mortar businesses do, creating a price disadvantage,” the senator said in a Monday afternoon press release.
Citing the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Alexander and Corker called it a matter of states’ rights.
“This bill allows states to require out-of-state sellers to do the same thing that in-state sellers already are required to do, and that many online sellers already do, and that is to collect sales tax when they make a sale,” Alexander said. “In Tennessee, conservative leaders want to avoid a state income tax and treat out-of-state sellers the same way they do the brick-and-mortar businesses that create jobs for Tennesseans.”
“I applaud the Senate for passing this states’ rights bill that will give states like Tennessee the flexibility to collect the revenues that are due under current law if they choose,” said Corker, who is also a Tennessee Republican. “I think most Tennesseans would agree that we are fortunate not to have a state income tax, and to ensure that remains the case, it’s important our sales tax system works. Today’s vote is a step in the right direction in making sure local brick-and-mortar businesses and online retailers are on the same playing field.”
The release from Alexander’s office said the senator sponsored the legislation along with Senators Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, and Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and a bipartisan group of 26 other senators, including Corker. The release said the legislation also has the support of Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.