Press Release from the Tennessee Alliance for Main Street Fairness, Jan. 26, 2012:
Sen. Alexander, Gov. Haslam Voice Support as Businesses Gather in Six Cities, Including Nashville
Nashville, TN – Businesses across Tennessee joined together today to support giving brick and mortar merchants a level playing field with online and catalog retailers. Such retailers are currently exempt from collecting and paying the state sales tax, which puts local stores at a huge price disadvantage.
In Nashville they gathered in Green Hills at Nashville Trunk and Bag.
“As long as the government continues to say you can buy this product at our store and pay sales tax or buy it online and save the sales tax, we’re going to continue losing business because of that policy,” said Susan Cavender, owner of Nashville Trunk and Bag. “That’s just wrong. Cities need local businesses and we need a level playing field.”
Cavender, Ron Shuff of Ron Shuff Music and Lori Elam of My Sister’s Closet are among those joining a steering committee of the Alliance for Main Street Fairness to push for a fair online tax policy. Merchants also gathered in Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Oak Ridge and Johnson City. They heard from both Senator Lamar Alexander, who is sponsoring a bill to close the online tax loophole and Governor Bill Haslam who supports the legislation.
“This legislation would give states the ability to close the online sales-tax loophole, created when out-of-state sellers don’t collect, and purchasers don’t pay, the state sales tax – even though they still owe it. This loophole subsidizes out-of-state businesses at the expense of Tennessee businesses and subsidizes some taxpayers at the expense of others. Tennessee is losing hundreds of millions of dollars that could be used to improve services or avoid a state income tax. The legislation addresses a states’ rights issue: preserving the right of states to collect – or to decide not to collect – taxes that are already owed under state law.”
“Tennessee’s brick and mortar retailers are significant investors here, employing thousands of Tennesseans, and as a state that relies heavily on sales tax revenue, we must focus on maintaining a healthy and competitive environment to grow Tennessee jobs,” Haslam said. “I appreciate Sen. Alexander’s leadership along with the support from members of our congressional delegation to find a national solution as we work to become the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”
Support for the federal legislation to close the sales tax loophole is widespread. Senator Bob Corker is a co-sponsor of the Senate bill. In the House, both Reps. Steve Cohen and John Duncan Jr. are co-sponsors of a similar bill. Metro Mayor Karl Dean has voiced support along with Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Mayor Tom Beehan of Oak Ridge. The legislation also has the support of the chambers of commerce in Knoxville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Oak Ridge and Johnson City, with more endorsements expected.
The Alliance for Main Street Fairness includes businesses all across the state. The steering committee will focus on generating even more support for online fairness and making sure that support is communicated to the Congressional delegation.