Another View -- Jeanne Shaheen: Internet sales tax would target NH

May 10, 2016

There is nothing “fair” about the misnamed Marketplace Fairness Act, which would force Granite State small businesses to become sales-tax collectors for other states.

This misguided legislation would impose new burdens on New Hampshire’s small businesses while offering no benefit to our state. It’s no surprise that high-tax states love this legislation and giant retailers like Walmart are spending millions to pass it. But this bill is bad for small retailers who use the internet, bad for the national economy and especially bad for New Hampshire. As the lead Democrat on the Senate Small Business Committee, I intend to keep working to defeat it.

Make no mistake, this legislation is a direct threat to Granite State small businesses. I recently met with Steve Young Jr., who operates a family-owned business, Coast to Coast Antiques, in Newport. Over the years, Steve and his family have used eBay to reach new customers across the country and abroad, allowing their business to expand and hire new employees. Earlier this year, Steve and his wife Michelle made the rounds of congressional offices in Washington to warn that an internet sales tax would harm small, mom-and-pop businesses that use an electronic marketplace such as eBay or Etsy. They said that for a family-run business, the prospect of having to collect sales taxes for other states, and possibly drop everything to leave town for an audit, would hurt not only their business, but also their family. 

We all have an interest in keeping the internet free and accessible. Open commerce online has been a powerful engine of innovation and job creation, empowering thousands of Granite Staters to become thriving small-business entrepreneurs. Currently, retailers that sell their products and services over the internet are not required to collect sales taxes if they don’t have a physical presence in the customer’s state. The so-called Marketplace Fairness Act would require an e-retailer operating from a small shop in, say, Keene or North Conway, to collect and remit sales taxes to more than 9,600 state, county and city tax jurisdictions across the U.S. 

The costs and red tape created by this legislation would be especially onerous in states such as New Hampshire where small businesses have no experience collecting sales taxes. Small businesses would have to purchase costly software and retain an accountant to navigate constantly changing tax jurisdictions, tax rates and tax holidays all across America. Mammoth e-retailers such as Amazon already have large accounting departments, but small e-retailers would face new costs and be vulnerable to audits from other states. The law would force many small companies to end out-of-state sales or drive them out of business altogether.

As a former small business owner, I know that most small businesses operate on small profit margins and struggle to keep overhead low. That’s especially true for small online retailers. It is unacceptable to impose major new administrative costs on small businesses while making it harder to compete with big-box retailers. Let’s keep internet commerce tax-free and wide open, and let’s protect New Hampshire’s competitive advantage as a state 100 percent free of sales taxes.

Jeanne Shaheen, a Madbury Democrat, represents New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate. - See more at:

Source: Union Leader - Op-Ed by Senator Shaheen