By Michael Kercheval
This month, brick-and-mortar retailers have reason to celebrate. Thanks to a bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators and Representatives, the Marketplace Fairness Act is back. The legislation, which was introduced earlier this month by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Representatives Steve Womack (R-AR), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT) and John Conyers (D-MI) resolves the differences between bills introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives last Congress.
Over the last several years, a broad coalition of Main Street businesses and organizations from across the country have come together to urge Congress to support marketplace fairness. With the introduction and strong bi-partisan support for the Marketplace Fairness Act, these groups have formally joined together to form the Marketplace Fairness Coalition. The members of the coalition represent nearly 3 million businesses, associations and organizations across the country. I’m proud to say that the International Council of Shopping Centers is one of the driving forces behind the coalition.
In addition to the private sector, I see a great deal of momentum for e-fairness growing at all levels of government, from local communities to state legislatures to Capitol Hill. Each month more states put pressure on Internet sellers to play by the same rules as their brick-and-mortar counterparts and collect sales tax at the point-of-purchase. They need the support of Congress to get it done. And we’re working to make sure they get it.
I have never been more optimistic about the chances of enacting federal legislation. And it has never been more important. Local businesses cannot afford another year of competing on an un-level playing field. Every day Main Street retailers are forced to shutter their doors because they simply cannot compete against an entire industry that enjoys a de-facto 5-10% government subsidy.
Please join us as we work to level the playing field for all retailers. Visit our website, sign up for updates and follow us on Twitter. Talk to your elected officials in Washington D.C. Tell them that we all need a sales tax system that supports our 21st Century marketplace. Tell them that they should support the Marketplace Fairness Act. We’re closer than ever to passing federal legislation this Congress. We need your support to get it done.
Michael P. Kercheval is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Founded in 1957, ICSC is the premier global trade association of the shopping center industry.