In its struggle against surging online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has unleashed a weapon long shunned by Sam Walton: lobbying.
On July 24, the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on a bill to let states collect sales tax from out-of-state merchants that sell to their residents. If it is passed, online retailers, which now mostly don’t collect sales tax, will lose a price advantage that has helped them take business from brick-and-mortar stores.
“Wal-Mart had this attitude that they didn’t need to worry about Washington and politics,” Kersh said in a phone interview. “They started lobbying on tax issues some years ago. Once you start down the path, it’s not something you retrench on. It just keeps expanding.”