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Public Statements

Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I am very grateful to my colleague from Minnesota for yielding for those 3 or 4 minutes. I thank him for his forbearance.

I rise in support of our local small businesses and retailers across Colorado and I would like to think across our great country. Senator Durbin and Senator Enzi have introduced a bipartisan bill, the Marketplace Fairness Act, of which I am a cosponsor. It would level the playing field for businesses located in Colorado by requiring out-of-State online sellers to collect and remit the same local and State sales taxes they have to pay.

It just makes common sense, which is why a similar amendment during the budget debate a few weeks ago, which I also cosponsored, passed by a bipartisan vote of 75 to 24.

The Marketplace Fairness Act is about achieving equitable treatment for all sales so businesses with a physical presence in Colorado, employing Colorado workers living in our communities, are not at a competitive disadvantage with out-of-State businesses that sell products online.

Online marketplaces have created great companies and innovative ways of doing business, but Federal law has failed to keep up with the pace of online sales. Again, we have had a lot of innovation in the online space, but Federal law has failed to keep up with the pace of online sales.

Back when trading posts and local markets were the most prevalent places for consumer goods, they did not have to worry about out-of-State sellers. Today, though, nearly 1 in 10 sales occurs online. Because of these online sales, we now have two inequitable forms of treatment in the marketplace: one where local brick-and-mortar retailers have to pay sales taxes and one where out-of-State online retailers get to take advantage of a loophole and avoid collecting any sales taxes at all. This has, unfortunately, created a disincentive to shop at and support our small local businesses.

It has been said, for at least a decade, that fixing this inequity is too difficult or it will burden certain online retailers and consumers. However, it should be noted this legislation requires States to simplify sales tax laws that apply to these out-of-State sales, in addition to providing software free of charge to sellers in order to make the task of collecting and remitting this revenue as painless as possible.

Many States have already taken this step. My State of Colorado is considering legislation this year to conform to the rules set out in this bill.

The version of the Marketplace Fairness Act we are going to consider has been negotiated by Members of both political parties, and it is a testament to what we can do when we work together to benefit our country and our economy. Not only will this legislation help level the playing field for mom-and-pop shops across our State and our country, it will help restore a lost revenue base for local governments that has slowly been eroded with the expansion of online out-of-State sales.

Most Americans know those commonsense, fair taxes support our schools, police and fire departments, and other critical local services. At the very least I think we can all agree that we do not want to penalize Main Street retailers for creating jobs in Colorado communities, which is why this bipartisan bill is so important.

I look forward to voting for the Marketplace Fairness Act, and I encourage all of my colleagues to do the same. I want to acknowledge my colleague from Minnesota for yielding me the time.

I yield the floor.


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