By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Republican Gov. Phil Bryant supports giving states the authority to force collection of sales taxes on Internet transactions, his spokesman, Mick Bullock, said Tuesday.
But Bullock added, “The governor is not in favor of increasing taxes.”
Legislation that passed the U.S. Senate and is pending in the House would give states the authority to require businesses to collect a tax on Internet sales. Online retailers currently aren’t required to collect sales taxes on Internet purchases unless the buyer is from a state where the retailer has a physical presence.
Both of the state’s two GOP senators, Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran, voted for the Marketplace Fairness Act.
Its fate in the House, however, is unknown. A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., said the congressman was undecided.
“There are concerns that the bill as passed by the Senate could be too burdensome for small businesses,” said Jordan Russell. “The Judiciary Committee in the House has a tough job ahead and he is going to continue to monitor its progress closely to make sure the path forward is good for jobs in Mississippi.”
Bryant’s predecessor, Haley Barbour, was a vocal supporter of the states having that power.
“E-commerce has grown, and there is simply no longer a compelling reason for government to continue giving online retailers special treatment over small businesses who reside on the main streets across Mississippi and the country,” then-Gov. Barbour wrote in 2011.
A study conducted by the National Conference of state Legislatures in 2011 estimated the states would lose $23.3 billion in revenue in 2012 because of Internet and catalog sales that are not subject to the sales tax levied in each individual state.
The estimated loss in Mississippi was $303.2 million.
House Ways and Means Chair Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said during a debate in the 2012 session he would support taxing Internet sales if Congress gives states that authority.