OPINION: Internet tax equity bill 'DOA," Mullin says [Tulsa World, Okla.]
(Tulsa World (OK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Nov. 03--A bill allowing states to force tax collections by large online merchants is "DOA" in the U.S. House of Representatives, Second District Congressman Markwayne Mullin told a Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast last week.
That isn't shocking news, but it is disappointing for a lot of people, especially local governments and traditional merchants who face Internet competitors who get an unfair price advantage equal to the sales tax rate. For sales into most of Tulsa that's equal to a 8.517 percent advantage.
In May, the U.S. Senate passed the Marketplace Fairness Act on a 69-27 vote. The measure would allow states with sales taxes to force Internet merchants with at least $1 million in online sales to collect use taxes on purchases by people living in those states. Use tax rates are equal to sales tax rates.
The measure also provides a simple means for merchants to determine applicable tax rates for various locales.
Since the Senate passed the measure, it has sat unloved in the House Judiciary Committee. House opponents, including Tulsa's Jim Bridenstine, argue that the measure creates new inequities and would kill U.S. jobs.
After Thursday's meeting with the chamber, Mullin's staff clarified that he hasn't endorsed the proposal, and wouldn't until it was in final form, but he had hoped for an open debate where all sides could be heard.
As Mullin pointed out to the chamber, the proposal wouldn't create any new taxes. It would simply allow existing taxes -- paid by some, but not most -- to be enforced more efficiently. The Oklahoma Tax Commission estimates that the state and local governments lost $225 million in revenue in 2012 because of the unpaid taxes.
Another important point that Mullin made: The tax is not levied on online merchants, but on consumers, who expect local government services that are funded with the revenue.
U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn isn't talking about whether he used an obscene reference to a body part last week in describing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
I gave Coburn spokesman John Hart a chance to dispute quotes attributed to the state's junior senator by the New York Daily News.
Hart responded: "It was a private event. Any further comment will be done at the member level."
The Daily News reported that Coburn told the New York Young Republican Club that there is "no comity" with Harry Reid. Then he dropped a verbal a-bomb.
I won't repeat Coburn's specific anatomical comparison for the majority leader, although I'm not prudish and have certainly heard worse. If you want to read the details, you can see it on the Daily News' website: bit.ly/coburnabomb
Subsequently, The Okahoman reports, Coburn met with Reid and the two were "square" in Hart's words. In an interview on Fox News, Coburn said, "My words weren't appropriate, but my frustrations are real."
More interesting than the word was an underlying controversy brought out by the Daily News.
Republicans in New York, including mayoral candidate Joe Lhota say it's inappropriate for members of Congress who voted against Hurricane Sandy relief -- which would include Coburn -- to participate in fundraising efforts in a city that was hammered by the storm, whose first anniversary was Tuesday.
"I don't like when New York City is used as an ATM for senators and members of the House who voted against the interests of New York," Lhota said.
I'll defend Coburn in this case. The event he was speaking at was a fundraiser, but he has no personal reason to bring in donations. He's made it clear he isn't running for re-election in 2016 at the end of his term.
So Coburn -- who speaks with a national voice for fiscal retrenchment -- was helping Lhota's fellow New York Republicans raise money. His vote against Sandy relief, while not popular in Manhattan, was consistent and principled.
First published on: tulsaworld.com/waynesworld
Former First District Congressman and NFL Hall of Famer Steve Largent has announced he isn't seeking an extension in his contract with CTIA-The Wireless Association, lobbying arm of the cell phone industry. Largent is the group's president and CEO.
His contract lasts through the end of next year. He's been there since 2003.
Largent wasn't taking press calls last week and the association's press release didn't tell much about his future plans, except that he was looking forward to more time with his family, which recently added its eighth grandchild.
Last year, The Hill listed Largent and the association's Jot Carpenter among Washington's most effective lobbyists after they successfully pushed for an auction of TV airwaves on behalf of wireless providers.
The Hill also says the CTIA job is one of the best lobbying jobs in Washington, and there should be a bundle of people interested in it.
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
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