Neil McCabe

“This is an existing, lawfully due tax imposed on consumers,” he said. “The difference is that it is paid to the traditional retailer at the time of purchase and the remittance is handled by the retailer. But for the online shopper, the obligation falls on him.”

Womack is not alone.

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Tea Party champion Rep. Steven A. King (R.-Iowa), and two men on the short list for the GOP’s vice-presidential nomination, New Jersey Gov. Christopher J. Christie and Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell each line up behind the Womack bill.

These three men take the position that small businesses have enough barriers to success and the disparate treatment encourages people to shop online rather than support their neighborhood stores.

But, it should be no surprise that Messrs. Christie and McDonnell are looking to broaden their tax base.

Christie said taxation of online sales an important issue to all the nation's governors and endorsed federal legislation giving all states taxing authority.

Even conservative opponents of the legislation agree small business owners have a point.

Jessica Melugin of the Competitive Enterprise Institute released a study on the legislation, where she concedes: “There certainly are inequities in the way online sales are taxed.”

But, like many opponents of congressional action to resolve Quill, Melugin said the Womack bill is worse than the disease.

Other long-term opponents of a federal requirement for the collection of state sales taxes, such as Amazon.com have come to support Womack, rather than have no regime in place.

With Amazon and others onboard, this could be the year parity is restored to retailers, before any more of our Main Street retailers go the way of CompuServe.


Neil McCabe

Neil W. McCabe is a journalist working in Washington. He was a senior reporter for the Human Events newspaper and for many years a reporter for The Pilot, Boston's Catholic paper. In 2009, he deployed to Iraq with the Army as a combat historian for 15 months.