Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus took to the Senate floor today to lead opposition to a provision that would force Montana businesses to play tax collector for other states. Baucus threw the full weight of his leadership of the Senate's tax-writing committee behind opposing the measure and urged the provision's backers to withdraw it from consideration.
"This amendment is bad for Montana businesses, and anything that doesn't work for Montana doesn't work for me," Baucus said.
"We in Montana have a saying about the sales tax: "Pay More - What For?"
"This amendment would require Montana employers to spend their hard-earned dollars to enforce sales taxes in other states, with absolutely nothing in return. This is a clear infringement on states' rights that we cannot stand for.
"Let me say it clearly: this is not Montana's tax. We have no sales tax. Montana businesses are not responsible for paying for the services and spending priorities in other states. Montana businesses are not responsible for paying for fancy software to play tax collector for other states."
Senator Jon Tester joined Baucus in opposing the provision:
"Montana's budget is currently operating at a surplus - without a sales tax. And the idea that other states would balance their budgets on the backs of Montana's hard working small businesses is not only wrong, but insulting.
"This is an unfunded mandate on Montana's small businesses and a slippery slope - what businesses will out-of-state tax collectors go after next?
"Agricultural products grown and raised in Montana and marketed in other states?
"It is an aberration of states' rights - rights which so many in this Chamber say that they support."
The amendment, introduced to the Senate Budget Resolution, could give any state the right to make businesses across the country collect sales taxes for that state when selling products online. Therefore, businesses in states like Montana - where there is no sales tax - could be forced to spend their time and money collecting taxes for states across the country with no benefit to Montana.