CBA has joined other trade associations to appeal to gubernatorial candidates in upcoming elections to champion the cause of local businesses by ensuring online-only retailers pay their fair share of local sales taxes.

The American Booksellers Assoc., which organized the appeal and has been organizing e-fairness efforts in various states, will begin distribution of the letters this week to request that sales-tax fairness and tax compliance to be high priorities for the governors. The letter points out many consumers incorrectly believe online buying is tax free, and tax-dodging by online companies hurts local businesses who pay the taxes but can’t compete in the marketplace. The letter asks governors to enforce existing laws that require sales-tax collection and payment if a company has a “nexus” or connection in a state where it sells products.

National trade associations signing the letter include American Booksellers Assoc., American Specialty Toy Retailing Assoc., CBA, Jewelers of America, National Association of College Stores, and the National Bicycle Dealers Assoc.

Regional associations signing the letter include Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Assoc., Midwest Booksellers Assoc., Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Assoc., New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Assoc., New England Independent Booksellers Assoc., Northern California Independent Booksellers Assoc., Pacific Northwest Booksellers Assoc., San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Assoc., Southern California Independent Booksellers Assoc., and Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.

The letter reads as follows:

Dear [NAME]:

As you look to set your agenda for 2011 and beyond, we the undersigned are writing to call your attention to the critical issue of sales tax equity. The longstanding failure of our state to uniformly enforce the law and require that all online retailers collect sales tax significantly weakens the in-state businesses that create jobs, and it siphons millions of dollars out of our state.

As organizations representing hundreds of businesses in the state, we respectfully ask that you make sales tax fairness a high priority if you win November’s election. We hope you will work to enforce current sales tax laws by requiring those remote retailers with nexus in the state—through online affiliates, stores, warehouses, and/or offices—to collect and remit sales tax.

Importantly, we are not discussing the imposition of a new tax. This is an issue of tax compliance. We want the state to clarify exactly which party is responsible for collecting a tax that is already on the books. We should not be allowing online retailers with nexus in the state through affiliates that act as sales agents to skirt their responsibility to collect and remit sales tax. Their failure to abide by existing sales tax law is a disservice to all the law-abiding businesses and to their communities, which depend on the vital services funded in part through this revenue.

Our member retailers need a solution to this inequity. Over the past decade, the growth of online shopping (greatly fueled by consumers’ incorrectly believing it is a tax-free shopping haven) has forced countless retailers to lay off workers and to cut hours and benefits–or both.

Remote sellers and their allies have fought hard to preserve this inequitable competitive advantage over businesses in the state. In truth, they are simply fighting to protect the self-interest of large out-of-state corporations at the expense of those of us who live and work here. Enforcing existing sales tax law will save jobs–and will help to reinvigorate the competitive climate necessary to fuel small business, the strongest engine for job growth.

We hope you will take a stand for the thousands of businesses and their employees in the state by tackling the crucial issue of sales tax inequity. 

We would certainly appreciate the opportunity to discuss this issue with you further at your convenience.

Thank you for your consideration.


National Trade Associations

American Booksellers Association

American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

CBA, the Association for Christian Retailers

Jewelers of America

National Association of College Stores

National Bicycle Dealers Association

Regional Trade Associations

Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association

Midwest Booksellers Association

Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association

New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association

New England Independent Booksellers Association

Northern California Independent Booksellers Association

Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association

San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Association

Southern California Independent Booksellers Association

Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance