Dec. 18, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER
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Gregoire and Haslam: Sales Tax Collection Is a Solvable Problem

Does anyone believe that companies who have mastered the Internet to market and sell cannot calculate sales taxes for the states? Technology and apps exist to make those calculations just as they exist to calculate shipping cost based on ZIP codes or compare prices among sellers. The “marketplace” bills build on a state agreement to streamline and simplify taxes to make it easier to collect and remit sales taxes wherever a company does business. They recognize new market and technological realities. Making it law would allow states to collect taxes owed, help businesses comply with different state laws and provide a level playing field for all retailers that will benefit consumers.

In Tennessee and Washington and in states all across the country, our Main Street stores — large and small, alike — compete with out-of-state and online competitors who are not collecting sales tax from our residents who make purchases. Businesses should compete on a level playing field of price, quality and service, not on the ability of one class of competitor to avoid collecting sales tax. The system is unfair and favors online sellers over the Main Street stores and small businesses that are members of our local communities and create most of our jobs.

All states must balance their budgets, and erosion of the sales tax base increases pressure to raise rates and makes it more difficult to address key priorities such as education and workforce development. States are advocating a common-sense structural solution to help small businesses, preserve jobs and simplify taxes.

We urge Congress to include marketplace fairness on its list of legislation to be completed this year.

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) is a former chair of the National Governors Association and co-lead governor on this issue. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is a former vice chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee and co-lead governor on this issue.

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