Online retail giant eBay came under hostile fire Thursday for its tactics in opposing a broadly embraced congressional plan to make it easier for midsize to large internet companies to collect state sales taxes.
The largest coalition of supporters of the pending legislation, the Marketplace Fairness Coalition, which includes large and small retailers including Amazon and Best Buy, slammed eBay President John Donahoe's comments to the Wall Street Journal this week that small retailers would drown in paperwork if the law was passed, as expected this week.
"All we're saying is, we're trying to look out for the interests of the smallest businesses," he told the Journal, adding that "this bill allows the state taxing authorities to audit anybody, to question anybody, to go after anybody."
The coalition called the comments misleading and inaccurate, explaining that new software technology now makes it very easy to figure out taxes for online sales. "In fact, basic software currently available in the marketplace today makes it easy for sellers to calculate any state's sales tax with a simple click-of-the-button and the Marketplace Fairness Act requires states to provide such software to businesses free-of-charge," said the coalition in a letter to eBay provided to Secrets.
What's more, they note that the law would exempt firms that make $1 million or less. That would "exempt over 99 percent of all online sellers from any collection or remittance requirement and, of course, eliminate any distant concern about audits," said the coalition, which supports the legislation because they claim it would level the playing field for online and bricks and mortar sellers.
Ebay, which sells products of small businesses, is the only big retailer opposed to the bipartisan legislation which supporters note does not create a tax but a simple system for retailers to collect state taxes already required on internet sales but largely ignored.