MA Mayors Ask Governor Patrick to Take Action on Sales Tax Fairness Before Holiday Shopping Season Begins
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September 19, 2012

Boston, MA – A group of Massachusetts Mayors, including Boston’s Thomas M. Menino, have sent a letter to Governor Deval Patrick asking him to “move aggressively” to force online giant Amazon.com into compliance with Massachusetts sales tax laws before the all-important holiday shopping season.

“We have read the news reports that you are in contact with Amazon and have plans to discuss this matter with them.  We applaud you for your leadership and urge you to move aggressively this fall so that Amazon is in full compliance with Massachusetts tax laws by the time the all important Christmas shopping season begins,” the Mayors wrote in the letter to Governor Patrick. 

The letter was spearheaded by Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Main Street Fairness Coalition (MMSFC), an organization made up of retailers, local elected officials, labor unions, trade and business associations, and individuals that want to see the playing field leveled between online and traditional retail businesses. 

“As mayors of eight Massachusetts cities and towns, we know firsthand that Main Street businesses are the lifeblood of our communities.  They provide our citizens with full and part-time jobs, are the core of the local commercial tax base, and form the vibrant center of our community downtowns. They support the local little league and soccer teams, the school fundraising campaigns, the July 4th fireworks, and myriad other causes,” the letter reads. 

Earlier this year, Amazon purchased a robotics company based in North Reading, and opened a research office in Kendall Square in Cambridge.  Under the current legal framework, these moves establish a physical presence for Amazon and a clear nexus that requires them, under existing law, to register with the DOR to collect and remit the MA sales tax on purchases made by MA residents.

Texas, Nevada, New Jersey recently announced that Amazon will begin collecting state sales tax after locating operations in those states, and being pressed by governors and other state leaders.  And just this month, Amazon began to collect state sales tax in both California and Pennsylvania as a result of similar action by leaders in those states.

The Massachusetts Main Street Fairness Coalition estimates that by moving to force Amazon.com to collect sales tax on MA purchases, the Commonwealth could net an additional $25 to $45 million dollars.

A May 31st letter from the MMSFC to the Patrick Administration, addressed to Massachusetts Department of Revenue Commissioner Amy Pitter, on the issue has gone unanswered. 

Additional information about the MMSFC can be found on our website at www.massmainstreet.com

A copy of the letter is attached.

# # # 

Contact:
Will Keyser
617.529.5849
will@keyserpublicstrategies.com

September 18, 2012

Dear Governor Patrick:

We are writing to you on a very important matter to our communities and to small businesses across Massachusetts.

Every morning when a Massachusetts retail business opens, he or she starts at a 6.25% price disadvantage to online giants like Amazon.com.  Because of a loophole created by a US Federal Court decision two decades ago, online retailers are not required to collect sales tax due on most online purchases unless they have a physical presence in a state, giving them a huge advantage over traditional “Main Street” businesses, who are struggling to keep their businesses open in a very tough economy.

As mayors of eight Massachusetts cities and towns, we know firsthand that Main Street businesses are the lifeblood of our communities.  They provide our citizens with full and part-time jobs, are the core of the local commercial tax base, and form the vibrant center of our community downtowns. They support the local little league and soccer teams, the school fundraising campaigns, the July 4th fireworks, and myriad other causes.

As you know, Amazon recently purchased a robotics company based in North Reading, and early this year, opened a research office in Cambridge.  Under the current legal framework, we believe these moves establish a physical presence for Amazon and a clear nexus that requires them, under existing law, to register with the DOR to collect and remit the MA sales tax on purchases made by MA residents.

Recently, Nevada and New Jersey have announced that Amazon will begin collecting state sales tax after locating operations in those states, and being pressed by governors and other state leaders.  Amazon began collecting sales tax in Texas on July 1 of this year under the same premise.  And just this month, Amazon began to collect state sales tax in both California and Pennsylvania as a result of similar action by leaders in those states.

We have read the news reports that you are in contact with Amazon and have plans to discuss this matter with them.  We applaud you for your leadership and urge you to move aggressively this fall so that Amazon is in full compliance with Massachusetts tax laws by the time the all important Christmas shopping season begins. 

We understand that the ultimate solution to this problem rests with the federal government and we hope, in time, it acts appropriately to correct this imbalance.  But Congress is not going to act unless pushed, and Massachusetts -- like we have on healthcare reform and many other issues in the past – can once again demonstrate national leadership on this vital issue.

Once again, thank you for the attention to this issue and the work you’re doing to restore fairness to the marketplace for our small businesses.  We look forward to working with you and your Administration so that a successful resolution can be achieved for our Main Street businesses.

 

Sincerely,

 

Kimberly Driscoll

Mayor of Salem

 

Thomas M. Menino

Mayor of Boston

Joseph C. Sullivan

Mayor of Braintree

Michael A. Tautznik

Mayor of Easthampton

Gary Christenson

Mayor of Malden

Stephen N. Zanni

Mayor of Methuen

Edward A. Bettencourt, Jr.

Mayor of Peabody

 

Daniel Rizzo

Mayor of Revere

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOIN THE COALITION:

We need your help. If you believe in our mission, please join our cause by becoming a member of the MA Main Street Fairness Coalition.

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