"We don't believe it is the job of small businesses to collect sale taxes for governments where they don't live, where they don't have a business presence, where they don't receive government services," Bond says, calling the sales-tax proposals "unfair and unwise."
Similar bills have been introduced in the House and Senate. Both measures would only authorize states to require online sellers to remit sales taxes after they had taken steps to simplify their tax codes, intended to lessen the burden on out-of-state retailers. Each bill also includes an exemption for smaller sellers: the House version sets a threshold of $1 million in annual revenue, while the Senate bill caps the exemption at $500,000.
The We R Here coalition is couching its message to lawmakers as a jobs issue, arguing that the Web is an essential platform for small businesses, and that requiring them to collect sales taxes for jurisdictions across the country would inevitably stifle growth.
Indulging in the Washington convention of acronyms, the We R Here name refers in longhand to "Web-Enabled Retailers Helping Expand Retail Employment."
An eBay representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the company's involvement with We R Here, though the ecommerce giant has been promoting the launch event and posted a link to the news release announcing the new coalition on its Main Street policy page.
Sales-tax legislation has become one of eBay's chief policy concerns, as the firm has vigorously opposed any effort that would place new collection requirements on its sellers. That position stands in sharp contrast to the stance that rival Amazon has taken in support of a federal measure to streamline sales taxes to override various state efforts to require outside retailers to remit the tax.
Kenneth Corbin is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who covers government and regulatory issues for CIO.com.