As the U.S. House of Representatives continues to debate the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), a number of local retailers are making the case for the e-fairness legislation. On behalf of the 21st Century Retail Project, long-time Roanoke businessman Larry Davidson recently shared his perspective on the importance of the Marketplace Fairness Act.
“I’m a third generation clothier – my grandfather started this business right here on Jefferson Street in 1910. As a local retailer I certainly believe in a free market system and what I don’t want is for the government to interfere in the competition. I can certainly compete on service, I can compete on selection but it is unfair for a online seller to have a price advantage that is the difference in the sales tax. I think the Marketplace Fairness act will provide a more level playing field so I can continue to operate in this local community.
In addition, Chamber president Joyce Waugh recently joined local retailer and Salem City Council member Jane Johnson and Roanoke County Supervisor Mike Altizer at a news conference announcing support for the MFA. The news conference coincided with the release of a study by noted economist Arthur Laffer designed to highlight the positive economic impacts that would result from closing the online sales tax loophole. By arguing that the government should not be picking winners and losers in the marketplace, the Laffer study can also be seen as an attempt to mollify conservative opposition to the MFA.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate approved the MFA on a 69-27 vote. Currently, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte, is exploring changes to the Senate legislation. Goodlatte has publicly expressed concerns that the Senate version lacks uniformity on definitions and tax rates and does adequately address the due process rights for online retailers.
The Roanoke Chamber of Commerce supports this legislation that they believe will create a level playing field for traditional and online retailers.