Support e-marketplace fairness

Bill would level playing field by requiring online retailers to collect sales tax

The California Assembly will soon vote on what is being called “e-fairness” legislation (AB 153, by Berkeley Democrat Nancy Skinner), and giant online retailers such as Amazon and Overstock are pulling out the stops to kill it.

The bill makes great sense. All it does is ask online retailers to collect the sales tax assessed on purchases, just as their brick-and-mortar counterparts do. Under current law, customers are responsible for keeping track of their online purchases and paying the sales taxes when they file their state tax returns. The law is unenforceable, of course, and the tax goes uncollected.

This gives online retailers a significant price advantage—up to 10 percent—over brick-and-mortar retailers. No wonder they are threatening to cut loose their California affiliates if the bill passes. Don’t let them get away with it. We urge passage of AB 153 and a companion bill, AB 155, by Charles Calderon (D-Whittier).