Opponents of Online Sales Tax Face Tough Battle

Tax could provide states with about $23 billion a year in additional revenue.

A loose coalition of anti-tax activists, direct marketers and financial industry trade groups has a tough task this week in overcoming bipartisan support for letting states impose sales taxes on out-of-state sellers.

Big-box retailers and state governments showed last month that they command wide backing for the levy. Now, opponents are emphasizing the potential flaws in the legislation as they try to peel away that support.

Mail-Order Era

The measure would effectively reverse a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision from the mail-order catalog era. The court prevented states from applying sales taxes to transactions with sellers that lacked a physical presence in their states.

‘Single Sentence’

“It wasn’t the bill,” Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president for government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association. “It was a single sentence.”

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