March 17, 2011

The Battle to Make Amazon Pay Taxes, part leventy-deux


Wal-Mart, Target, and many of the nation’s other biggest retailers “are ratcheting up a political campaign to force Inc. to collect sales taxes, sensing opportunity in the budget crises gripping statehouses nationwide,” according to a Wall Street Journal report by Miguel Bustillo and Stu Woo.

According to the report, several of the nation’s premier big-box stores “are backing a coalition called the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, which is leading efforts to change sales-tax laws in more than a dozen states including Texas and California.” The organization, started to support mom-and-pop-stores threatened by Amazon’s flagrant disobedience of state sales tax laws, now includes many of the nation’s largest retail chains, including not just Wal-Mart and Target, but also Best Buy, Home Depot, and Sears and others.

Explained Raul Vazquez, a Wal-Mart executive vice president, “The rules today don’t allow brick-and-mortar retailers to compete evenly with online retailers, and that needs to be addressed.”

Meanwhile, it’s not just retailers organizing to make Amazon obey the law: The WSJ reports that “U.S. Sens. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, are considering more direct legislation to force online retailers to collect sales taxes …”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.