November 23, 2011
In a move that grabbed attention among the technology and retail business communities, three senators—Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)—introduced legislation aimed at allowing states to require online-only, out-of-state retailers to collect and remit to states tax on sales made to residents of those states.
In a press release, the three senators touted their legislation as an effort to give states “the option to collect sales and use tax revenues from out-of-state sellers through a new, simplified tax system,” but “only if they adopt certain minimum simplification requirements and provide sellers with additional notices on the collection requirements.” The Enzi-Durbin-Alexander bill also “exempts sellers who make less than $500,000 in total remote sales in the year preceding the sale.” It reportedly has the support of big bricks-and-mortar retailers like Wal-Mart and Home Depot, as well as Amazon.com.
In multiple states around the country over the past year, legislators and officials have been looking to sales made by out-of-state, online-only retailers as a potential revenue stream capable of being tapped in order to help fill budget holes. California has been notably aggressive in pursuing a so-called “Amazon Tax,” which would force retailers like Amazon.com and O.co to collect and remit to the state sales tax on sales made to Californians.