They cite the emergence of new software applications that can help businesses automate the assessment and collection of the taxes. Opinions vary widely on the cost and effectiveness of those programs, however.
"It's expensive," said Joseph Henchman, vice president at the Tax Foundation, a Washington research group. "Now that may change as technology goes forward, but of course the simpler we make sales-tax systems by setting federal standards, the cheaper [the software will be]."
Henchman pointed out that even if the tax rates within states were harmonized -- the trigger for the collection authority in the Womack-Speier bill -- numerous other complicating factors could remain, such as tax holidays and different classifications of the same good in various jurisdictions that impact tax rates.
Womack pointed to a provision in the bill that would direct participating states to provide the tax-software to affected merchants, and other lawmakers suggested that the measure could incorporate language directing states to compensate sellers for the administrative costs of collecting the taxes, as some already do for brick-and-mortar retailers.
Kenneth Corbin is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who covers government and regulatory issues for CIO.com.
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