Last updated: December 21, 2011 - 2:57am
Does supporting a federal online sales tax bill violate the no new taxes pledge? That’s a question Congress will wrestle with as it considers giving states the authority to compel online retailers to collect sales tax. And possibly waiting to pounce will be Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, whose no-tax pledge has long inspired fear in Republican lawmakers mulling over a vote for anything resembling a tax.
After years of little action on the issue, Congress is now considering several bills. Retail groups have recently lobbied the deficit-reduction supercommittee to include federal legislation on online sales tax as a giveback to states, which are likely to see a reduction in federal money. Proponents of a federal solution say there is no new tax involved. Federal legislation, they say, would simply mean online retailers and other remote sellers would collect sales tax already owed — and only if a state wants to compel them to do so. Norquist’s group won’t say definitively whether it will consider a vote for the measure as a violation of the group’s pledge, which focuses on the federal income tax. But a spokesman for the group hinted that it would not look kindly on supporters — a potentially nettlesome problem as they try to secure GOP backing.
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