Status seen virtually unchanged in Congress’ online sales tax debate
Parties in the online sales tax debate have largely been engaged in a “waiting game” in recent months, and particularly in the Senate, said R Street Institute Executive Director Andrew Moylan, a critic of HR-2775 and S-698 critic. “Nobody quite knows when a vote might happen.” It’s likeliest to occur during an expected lame-duck session late this year because of the limited time remaining in the legislative calendar before the November elections, Moylan said. “We’re seeing a lot of progress” in educating lawmakers about the online sales tax issue “but there’s obviously still objections out there and until that’s resolved there will be resistance” to moving S-698, said Information Technology and Innovation Foundation Vice President Daniel Castro, a S-698 supporter. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., S-698’s lead sponsor, didn’t comment.
Senate leaders “technically have the time” to go through a full regular order process for considering S-698 that would include Senate Finance Committee consideration ahead of Senate floor action, said Moylan. “The real question is whether there’s the will to do those things.” The legislative calendar continues to complicate S-698’s path, in part because the ongoing debate over FY 2017 appropriations likely will be the Senate’s top priority ahead of the election, said Americans for Prosperity Director-Federal Affairs Christine Harbin, a critic of HR-2775 and S-698. The Senate likely also is reluctant to bring S-698 up for a vote ahead of the election for political reasons, she said.
It has largely been a “waiting game” on the online sales tax issue in the House, though Goodlatte’s continued work on his origin sourcing legislation could provide some “fresh thinking” on the issue and a more acceptable alternative to the Remote Transactions Parity Act, Moylan told us. HR-2775 isn’t a direct companion to S-698 but mirrors some of that bill’s elements (see 1506160035). Goodlatte began working on his origin sourcing bill last year ahead of HR-2775’s filing (see 1503120051). It’s “encouraging” that Goodlatte is continuing to pursue his bill given that origin sourcing is a concept “I’ve been a strong proponent of for years,” Moylan said.