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The congressman is in a unique position to construct a fair system for online sales collections.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Rep. Bob Goodlatte has a wonkish respect for the complexities involved in making major changes to tax law. For that reason, he’s been hesitant to sign on in support of legislation that would require larger online businesses to collect sales taxes, as their bricks and mortar counterparts must do.
But Goodlatte also is meticulous about keeping in touch with his constituents in Virginia’s 6th District. Business leaders in the Roanoke Valley and beyond have been clear and consistent in their support for the Marketplace Fairness Act.
The Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce reiterated its desire for reform during a press conference last week. Owners of local businesses noted that they are the victims of government-imposed tax discrimination under the current system. The merchants aren’t seeking an advantage for themselves, just fairer rules. They pointed to a new study that suggests fairer taxes would benefit the economy, generating an estimated 23,600 jobs in Virginia over the next 10 years and 1.5 million nationally.
There’s no doubt that there would be challenges to overcome in keeping track of online transactions. Small online businesses that collect less than $1 million in out-of-state revenues would be exempt from the sales tax requirement. But mid-sized and larger companies must have an efficient means to collect taxes and comply with various state rates and rules.
Goodlatte is in a unique position as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, where the legislation is pending, to make sure a workable plan is passed by Congress. He would have help from members of both parties. More than 60 members are cosponsoring the House version of the Marketplace Fairness Act, including Reps. Morgan Griffith, R-9th, Scott Rigell, R-2nd and Bobby Scott, D-3rd. It’s not often that particular group agrees on anything.
Roanoke County Supervisor Mike Altizer, a Republican, got it right last week when he said the legislation is built on conservative principles. A broad-based tax system, in which everyone pays his fair share, keeps rates reasonable and spurs job growth. That’s a cause worthy of Goodlatte’s support.
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