Last updated: December 20, 2011 - 11:15pm
On the eve of the holiday shopping season, Internet retailers and the nation’s largest store chains are trying to undercut one another — in Congress — on the issue of Internet sales taxes.
Wal-Mart has recently hired three lobbying firms to urge lawmakers to force online retailers to collect state sales taxes, as “brick and mortar” stores across the nation already do. A trade group for shopping centers, meanwhile, tripled the amount it spent on lobbying last quarter, and the group joined the powerful retail lobby in urging the deficit-reduction supercommittee last week to include an Internet sales tax bill in its final package. This week, a third online sales tax bill is expected to be introduced in Congress. “The cart is finally rolling,” said Jason Brewer, a spokesman for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which supports congressional legislation. But cybermerchants are fighting back against the march of the big-box stores on Capitol Hill. They’re recruiting Internet activists and sympathetic lawmakers to stand in the way of some of the new legislation on Internet sales taxes. Online merchants, such as auction site eBay, have also added to their lobbying ranks recently to fight the tax push. The reason for the rush is that for the first time in more than a decade, Congress appears ready to grapple with the issue of Internet sales taxes.
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