The current sales tax system favors online retailers over their brick-and-mortar counterparts. California was able to address this issue two years ago by bringing all parties together to agree on a system of collecting sales taxes that were owed the state from online purchases.  Local businesses deserve a fair chance to compete with online sellers, and only Congress has the ability to make that happen.

The status quo results in the government picking winners and losers and doesn’t reflect 21st century retail – where retailers are selling through a variety of channels.  This issue is now being addressed in what is known in Congress as the Marketplace Fairness Act.

On April 25, after four days of some Senators trying to tie the Marketplace Fairness bill in knots, our friends at ICSC and its allies prevailed with the U.S. Senate approving 63-30 to cut off debate and move the legislation forward in that chamber (to see vote tally please click here). In an agreement reached Thursday evening, a final vote is set for May 6. Congress leaves Washington for a district work period the week of April 29, which provides time for both sides on the issue to amplify their communications and make contact with lawmakers back home.

You are now encouraged to take action with your Senators and ask them to vote YES on S. 743, “The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013,” when they return. The vote on May 6 is crucial to the forward progress of the bill this year. Assuming passage, the bill then goes to the House where it must be ratified and overcome challenges in that body.

Here is how you can help — Personal touches will be key while Members of Congress are back home. If you see your Senators or Representative at public events, please make a point to bring up this issue. It will also be valuable to attend townhall meetings, invite them to tour your shopping center and set up meetings with their district offices to talk about the importance of the bill. Please ask your business colleagues and retail tenants to get engaged as well, even if it’s just by sending an email or tweeting an office. The tweet generator is located at http://www.21stcenturyretail.org

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