I support the Main Street Fairness Act, which would streamline collection of sales taxes on the Internet.
In 2009, I was appointed by the Speaker of the Maine House to serve on a National Conference of State Legislatures panel on the issue. We commissioned a University of Tennessee study that found states would lose $23.3 billion in uncollected taxes on Internet sales in 2012, and Maine would lose $65.4 million.
The Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement was developed by legislators, tax administrators, and private sector representatives from 35 states in an attempt to modernize sales and use tax systems. The agreement has been joined by 23 states. Maine has been working toward compliance with the agreement, but has not officially joined.
I co-sponsored legislation in 2009 to bring Maine closer to joining the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, with the support of a majority of Maine's municipal leaders and the Maine Municipal Association. But the bill was defeated in both chambers. Then, legislation I sponsored to move Maine forward on this issue in 2011 was defeated along party lines. Nearly four years later, Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, sent a letter to Maine's U.S. senators urging them to support the idea.
The proposal is not a new tax. It is a collection of taxes already due but usually not paid by consumers, who are expected to keep track of online purchases and remit sales tax on their annual returns.
Moving forward, I support of the Main Street Fairness Act, and I will continue to champion the cause of E-fairness and leveling the playing field for Maine businesses.