The National Retail Federation (NRF) along with National Small Business Week honored a group of 136 Members of the Congress from both parties for their continuous support of American retailers. Sixty-nine Senators and 67 representatives were named as “Heroes of Main Street” at the inaugural award event.
The NRF award acknowledges the politicians’ efforts to support and sponsor the Marketplace Fairness Act, which passed the Senate in May and gives individual states the power to collect sales tax from remote sellers, like e-commerce sites or catalog merchants. Proponents of the controversial bill argue that such an act ensures that brick-and-mortar retailers have a fair chance of competing with a burgeoning community of online retailers, who are required to collect tax only for sales within their own state. Consequently, online retailers can charge lower prices for out-of-state sales than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. The Marketplace Fairness Act attempts to level the playing field by making sales tax collection by online retailers mandated by federal law.
However, opponents of the bill, like eBay and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), say that the Marketplace Fairness Act places an unfair burden on small businesses that rely on the Internet, many of whom don’t have the resources to calibrate tax on a state-by-state basis. “We don’t believe that compliance capabilities of a business with $1,000,001 in gross sales and the very largest companies the United States are equally weighted,” the DMA’s VP of State Affairs Ron Barnes told Direct Marketing News in April.
The “Heroes of Main Street” awards were instituted by the NRF to recognize congressional members that have been instrumental in advancing the interests of the retail sector in Washington. Some notable honorees include John McCain, Kirsten Gillibrand, Harry Reid, and Jay Rockefeller.
“These ‘heroes’ have all demonstrated a unique understanding and commitment to policies that will ensure a growing and thriving Main Street,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in the official press release. “NRF is pleased to acknowledge these specific Members of Congress for their unmatched leadership on the Marketplace Fairness Act.”
Having passed the Senate, the bill must now pass the House Judiciary Committee. The committee’s chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), however, has stated that the House is looking at alternatives to the Marketplace Fairness Act.