Grasping At Straws – Alibaba

There’s an article in The Hill today  about the pro-Marketplace Fairness Act proponents doing a big push on some Alibaba themed ads.  The Alliance for Main St. Fairness (Walmart, big box retail chains..) produced the spots which will be running on the news shows this week.  The Hill states:

“The ad marks the beginning of a six-figure campaign by the Alliance. The commercial will run on all of the Sunday political talk shows, and on cable television in the Washington, DC, Roanoke and Harrisonburg, Virginia, media markets, according to a spokesman.”

Hmm.. Roanoke, home of the House Judiciary Chair Goodlatte.  Congressman who published a set of fairness guidelines 14 months ago that paused any consideration of the unfair MFA.

Here’s the main gist – quoted from the ad.

““Thanks to the online sales tax loophole this Chinese company will decimate our local retailers. Unless Congress ends special tax treatment for Alibaba and other online giants, Main Street will never look the same,” the narrator states.”

Which of course it utterly false.  For all of the reasons I won’t rehash in Myth of a Level Playing Field & Myth of a Level Field, Part 2 MFA won’t bring a level playing field as it affects so few states and leaves a large percentage of sellers unaffected by MFA.

Above and beyond those reasons, foreign sellers will NOT be affected at all by MFA.

  • U.S. Sellers over the exemption level will bear all of the compliance costs, burdens and audit risks.
  • A Chinese seller shipping into the U.S. will NOT.
  • A Chinese (or other foreign seller) will not collect & remit sales tax

What is this really about?  Desperation.  Throwing whatever proponents think will help pass this bill this year, their last & best chance for a while.  The last sentence of the Hill article really sums up the desperation, trickery and why it matters to proponents:

 “Backers hoped to attach the legislation to a less controversial bill that would extend a freeze on taxes on Internet access. They have admitted that it could be a major setback if the proposal doesn’t become law this year.

As I’ve said before, proponents seem willing to say or do almost anything to pass this bill for big box retail.  This website has documented the cognitive dissonance, the misstatements and the flat out lies.  This is hopefully the last gasp for this bill for a while (knock on wood).


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