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Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 -- Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. TESTER. Mr. President, I wish to speak on this bill. It is called the Marketplace Fairness Act. It will not do anything but damage to the marketplace, in my opinion.

This bill will impose new burdens on our small businesses. Let me repeat that. It will place new burdens on our small businesses. I have heard folks come to the floor and talk about how great this is going to be for small businesses. This is going to be terrible for small businesses. Small businesses are going to have to bring on more people. This is going to be more bureaucracy, with more accountants, more lawyers. This should be called the bill to employ more attorneys and more CPAs.

The fact is, I do not think the attorneys want this kind of work, nor do the CPAs want this kind of work, because what it will do is fundamentally alter the rights of States by allowing them to tax entities outside their borders.

Who is put at risk by this? Small businesses. If the small business screws up, by the way, they are the ones who are held accountable. We talk about this big old database out there that these folks are going to be able to dub into to determine what the sales tax is for a single entity of the 9,600 cities and States and municipalities that collect sales tax. If the business gets it wrong, they are the ones that have the penalty. I am going to tell you that small businesses are not that profitable to be able to go through this kind of an exercise.

In Montana we are in a little different situation. In Montana our budget has a surplus because we have handled our money wisely. Montanans do not pay a sales tax, we do not have a sales tax, and the people of the State of Montana have twice voted against having one. But our budget continues to operate with a surplus without that sales tax.

Now we are going to have other States balance their budgets on the backs of Montana's hard-working small businesses. It is wrong and, quite frankly, it is insulting. In fact, Virginia--right close here--has already counted these funds as part of their budgeting for a new transportation plan.

I would say this is bad policy that I hope--I know what the cloture vote was yesterday--people take a look at because this is not the direction this body should be going. At a bare minimum, we should send this bill to committee and let the Finance Committee deal with it.

This has some real problems. It has real problems from an implementation standpoint. If we go down this road, it is a very slippery slope; it is going to create more bureaucracy; it is going to create more burdens for small businesses, including new liabilities for incorrectly collecting this sales tax, as I talked about before.

There are 9,600--let me say it again--there are 9,600 cities, States, and municipalities that collect taxes--different taxes: higher taxes on candy than in a different jurisdiction, sometimes no taxes on food. The list goes on and on and on.

It also leaves questions unanswered about how this could impose new taxes on financial transactions and 401(k) plans. It is bad policy.

What businesses will out-of-State tax collectors go after next? It is an aberration of States rights--rights which so many in this Chamber have supported.

It is a situation where we are going down a road that, quite frankly, we have not gone down before from a States rights standpoint. If we do this, I think it opens a Pandora's box, so to speak, as to new rules, new laws that potentially come down, using this as a basis for it.

As I said before, I empathize with the situation of States that have had their budgets underwater. But they ought not be looking at other States' small businesses--in our case Montana's small businesses--to get their budgets in balance.

I would urge my colleagues to vote against this bill. It would gut States rights. It would impose new tax burdens on small businesses and middle-class Americans. Quite frankly, this is bad policy, and we should not be passing bad policy around here.

I thank the Presiding Officer and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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