• Clint Engel

NAHFA wants to restart Internet sales tax legislation

Says it would put online, offline sellers on equal footing

ROSEVILLE, Calif. — The North American Home Furnishings Assn. has asked the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to draft legislation to get the ball rolling again on the Marketplace Fairness Act.

NAHFA sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., asking him "to immediately draft legislative language based on his ‘Basic Principles on Internet Sales Tax'" document, which he released in September.

The Marketplace Fairness Act, a bill that would require online retailers to start collecting sales tax, was passed in the Senate last year but stalled in the House as some conservatives complained that it would amount to a new tax. Some online retail giants, however, have come out in favor of the bill, including Amazon.com and Wayfair.com

Goodlatte's "Basic Principles" document includes language that says brick and mortar retailers, pure e-commerce players and retailers that blend the two should be on equal footing.

NAHFA wants Goodlatte to draft legislation based on these principles "in order to establish marketplace fairness and an equal playing field for all retailers, whether they be brick-and-mortar stores or online sites," it said in a release.

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on March 4 entitled "Exploring Alternative Solutions on the Internet Sales Tax Issue."

"The letter explains that like many others in the retail industry, furniture retailers are facing increasing competition from online sales," NAHFA said in a release. It pointed to data that suggests e-commerce websites sold $2.4 billion in furniture in 2011, a number expected to double by 2016. Online furniture sales increased 11.1% in 2012 over 2011 and accounted for about 9% of total furniture sales, NAHFA said.

"The special treatment of online sellers distorts this market and puts many local brick-and-mortar businesses at a competitive disadvantage," the NAHFA said.

NAHFA said the Marketplace Fairness Act would allow retailers "to compete on an equal playing field with those online sellers that are exploiting the current system."

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

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