(April 25) – The House gave preliminary approval tonight to Speaker Mark Ferrandino’s bill to level the playing field for Colorado’s Main Street merchants and support Colorado jobs.

SB13-200 would set up the Colorado framework for the federal Marketplace Fairness Act, which passed another procedural test in the U.S. Senate today and is given a fair chance of passing Congress this year.

The federal bill would allow states to require online and catalog retailers, no matter where they are located, to collect the buyer’s applicable sales taxes – exactly like local retailers are already required to do. Software now exists to calculate and remit the proper state and local sales taxes for every address in the country.

“This is about making sure we’re fair to our brick-and-mortar companies,” Speaker Ferrandino told the House.

Under his bill, online sellers with less than that $1 million in Colorado sales would be exempt.

The state sales tax currently provides about 27 percent of Colorado’s general fund, which helps pay for programs such as health care, education and services for the disabled. Local sales taxes help keep our public libraries open, our streets plowed and our parks clean.

But as internet sales grow, sales tax collections lag. A 50-state study from the University of Tennessee estimated that Colorado’s state and local tax revenue losses from uncollected e-commerce sales totaled $173 million in 2012, including $73 million in general fund revenue.

Speaker Ferrandino’s bill is supported by the Colorado Retail Council, the Colorado Municipal League, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the International Council of Shopping Centers, the Bell Policy Center and Shop-at-Home, an online retail group.

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