A letter ("Act would hurt small businesses," Aug. 3) incorrectly suggested the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act and the Marketplace Fairness Act were the same issue.
The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act prevents Internet access from being taxed. Sen. Mike Johanns believes the Internet should be accessible to as many consumers as possible and is a cosponsor of this legislation.
The Marketplace Fairness Act is about protecting businesses on Main Street by enforcing current laws. A Supreme Court ruling in 1992 requires online businesses to collect sales tax in the states where they have a physical presence. In states where they do not have a physical presence, online retailers are not required to collect sales and use taxes owed to states. This failure to evenly apply state and local sales taxes to all retailers has caused many local brick-and-mortar businesses to express concern about competitive disadvantage.
Without online retailers collecting the tax, it is up to individual consumers to self-report their purchases to be in compliance with current law, or face potential penalties associated with back taxes. So, this change lifts the burden from consumers.
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Marketplace Fairness would not create new taxes. Rather, it would level the playing field and enable states to enforce current tax laws by working with retailers to collect the appropriate sales and use tax revenue from online purchases. Consumers would pay the same state and local sales tax from a local brick-and-mortar business or from an online vendor.
One law is about access. The other is about enforcing our laws and ending discriminatory tax treatment of retailers on Main Street.
Nick Simpson, communications director, U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns