Utah League of Cities and Towns

Making Life BETTER

Senator Mike Lee (R) – Main Street Fairness Act

Where do you stand on the “Main Street Fairness Act” and/or the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” what are your concerns about the bills, and do you expect any movement on these bills in 2012?

There continues to be significant discussion regarding how states might go about collecting sales and use taxes from online retailers. In 1992, the Supreme Court said that forcing remote sellers – businesses with no physical location in a state – to remit taxes to each separate sales and use tax jurisdiction (believed to be close to 11,000 at the time the case was decided) would be too burdensome to companies and interfere with interstate commerce. Therefore, states could not enforce the requirement on businesses to remit theses taxes until Congress addressed the burdens outlined by the Supreme Court.

There have been obvious advances in technology over the past two decades that have significantly lessened that burden. As a result, proponents of legislation such as the Marketplace Fairness Act, which is a response to the Supreme Court’s prior ruling, would enable states to collect the sales taxes and help certain retailers use theses advancements to follow existing state laws.

As a general principle, I support the prerogatives of states to craft and manage their own tax and revenue systems. It encourages transparency and competition amongst the states, and restores important principles of federalism. I have been working with my fellow Senators to ensure that any bill, which might come to the Senate floor, reflects the proper balance between the interests of retailers, states, and consumers while encouraging fiscal responsibility. The Marketplace Fairness Act is a good opening step, but clearly the discussion is not over. I will make a final determination once we know exactly what kind of bill is coming to the Senate floor.