Scott Humphrey, CEO of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), along with other key representatives of the organization, recently spent two days in Washington D.C., meeting with the staffs of members of Congress about the proposed Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) and other issues of importance to flooring industry retailers.
"The Marketplace Fairness Act will force online sellers to collect taxes on their retail sales,” Humphrey said. “That will be a vital step in leveling the playing field between those who sell flooring on the Internet, many of whom advertise that they do not charge sales tax and WFCA’s brick-and-mortar members.”
Humphrey and his WFCA team, which included general counsel Jeff King and the association’s public affairs agency of record, LobbyIt, met with the offices of Senators Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), as well as Representatives Jason Chafffetz (R-Utah), Steve Womack (R-Arkansas) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington).
Humphrey said that brick-and-mortar retailers are at a stark disadvantage until the Marketplace Fairness Act becomes law. “Consumers today go into stores, identify and gather information about the products they like, and then go home and order those products from an online seller. In addition to not collecting sales tax, Internet retailers save the property taxes and other significant expenses of operating those stores that serve to inform consumers—making it next to impossible for brick-and-mortar businesses to compete with Internet pricing.”
Humphrey went on to say WFCA represents “Main Street retailers who sponsor local little league teams and place advertisements in high school football programs, and whose taxes go to support the local police and fire departments. Until the retailers’ playing field is leveled by Congress, those crucial contributions to local communities will be at risk.”
The MFA has been characterized by its opponents as a “new” tax. According to Humphrey, the retail sales tax that the law will require online sellers to collect is a tax that consumers already are supposed to pay when they buy merchandise. “The MFA will not create a ‘new’ tax at all, but just make the imposition of retail sales taxes uniform for brick-and-mortar and online purchases.”
Humphrey said WFCA is urging retailers to contact their federal and state representatives immediately and urge them to support the MFA. “Time is of the essence with respect to this issue and a ‘no’ vote on this legislation is a vote against an important and historic part of our local communities—the brick-and-mortar retail business operator.”
Senators Durbin, Alexander and Enzi, along with Representative Womack, are the main Congressional sponsors of the MFA. While in Washington the WFCA delegation also met with the Small Business Council regarding unnecessary burdens being placed on small business by current government policies, and with the Environmental Protection Agency about issues related to lead paint and crystalline silica.