WASHINGTON, March 22 The U.S. Senate on Friday
approved a mostly symbolic measure on Internet sales taxes and
showed that legislation allowing states to tax businesses beyond
their borders has strong bipartisan support in an often
politically fractured Congress.
Senators from both parties, including Republican Lamar
Alexander of Tennessee and Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois,
approved an amendment to the Senate's budget resolution that
would clear the way for states to collect the so-called "Amazon
The budget resolution, though, is non-binding and the tax
could have to be addressed again in other legislation.
Still, the approval should reassure states and "bricks and
mortar" retailers that Congress will come together to pass a
There was some opposition. Before the vote, Senator Kelly
Ayotte of New Hampshire, a Republican, and Senators Max Baucus
of Montana and Ron Wyden of Oregon, Democrats, spoke out against
it, saying it would hurt businesses in states without sales
In 1992 the Supreme Court decided the patchwork of state tax
laws made it too difficult for online retailers to collect and
remit sales taxes. Currently, states can only tax Internet sales
made by companies with a physical presence within their borders.
In practice, that means online retailers such as Amazon.com Inc
charge sales tax in some states and not in others.
Large Internet retailers are worried the tax could drive up
the cost of doing business. They would also have to create new
systems and software to collect the surcharges, adding to their
costs. Amazon said in July it prefers having the tax issue
resolved at the federal level.
When the 2007-09 recession caused states' revenues to
collapse, both Republican and Democratic governors advocated for
the tax as a financial solution that would not require the
federal government to provide direct aid.
Last month both chambers took up identical bills on the tax.