Congress Aims to Enact Internet Sales Tax

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says lawmakers are close to enacting an online sales tax and predicted it may even pass Congress this year.

Reid has long been a supporter of the type of proposal being pushed by Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), and noted that Internet retailer Amazon is behind it.

Reid describes the proposal as “very fair” and said that it would “help these little strip malls we have all over America,”.

Retail groups and other supporters have lobbied for online sales tax measures in both the House and the Senate, saying the current law favors Internet retailers over brick-and-mortar stores.

As it stands, companies only have to collect sales taxes on Internet purchases from customers in states where they have a physical plant or location. Reports suggest that states could bring in billions of dollars in extra revenue with an online sales tax law. Opponents of the measure, including prominent conservatives like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), say lawmakers should be finding ways to lower Americans’ tax bills, not devising more ways for people to pay.

Durbin believes support for the measure is solid on the Democratic side, though he said he wasn’t sure Enzi and another prominent GOP supporter, Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), have rounded up the 15 or 20 Republicans needed to pass it through the Senate.

Enzi has also expressed confidence that a measure could get passed this year, and Alexander has said he expects the bill to go through in either 2012 or 2013.

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