In his April 24 op-ed “Everything to fear in Internet sales tax” columnist Jeff Jacoby argues that American taxpayers should beware the Marketplace Fairness Act currently pending in the Senate. However, he fails to mention that the last Supreme Court ruling on this issue took place in 1992, before Internet access, much less online shopping, even existed. This decades-old ruling has created a loophole that gives certain online sellers a competitive advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers. The Supreme Court invited Congress to address this problem. It’s now up to Congress to act.
Jacoby tries to convince us that this legislation would place an unnecessary burden on small online retailers, as it would force them to become “tax collectors.” However, the Marketplace Fairness Act includes a small-seller exemption, which covers about 99 percent of online retailers. For the remaining 1 percent, tax collection software has been on the market for years and is being used by numerous retailers.
Finally, consumers pay taxes, not retailers. According to existing laws in our state, we are supposed to pay the tax even when we purchase items online. The reality is that both brick-and-mortar retailers and online sellers are competing for the consumer’s attention. If online retailers want to benefit from doing business with Massachusetts residents, they should have to play by the same rules as everybody else.
Kudos to those in Congress who are working to protect our small businesses and level the playing field through this important legislation.
The writer is vice president for leasing and asset management at Linear Retail Properties.