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Bill urging federal Internet sales tax pushed

CARSON CITY — Sen. Joyce Woodhouse is again pushing a resolution this session that would urge Congress to pass legislation allowing states to tax all Internet sales to level the playing field with Nevada-based “brick and mortar” businesses.

Senate Joint Resolution 4 was heard in the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee on Wednesday. A similar resolution passed the Nevada Legislature in 2013, but Congress adjourned in 2014 without passing the Marketplace Fairness Act.

Woodhouse, D-Henderson, said action by Congress would not only bring fairness to retail sales, but would also mean millions of dollars in sales taxes to the state and local governments that now go uncollected.

The resolution was supported by a range of groups, including the Retail Association of Nevada, the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce, the Nevada Taxpayers Association and the city of Henderson.

Amanda Schweisthal, representing the retail association, said the proposal is not a tax increase. It would require the collection of taxes that are already due, she said.

Wayne Kodey, the former owner of Casey’s Cameras in Las Vegas and a former Las Vegas Review-Journal photographer, testified in support of the resolution. Kodey said he could not compete with online retailers who could sell the same merchandise he offered but without the state and local sales tax, which varies by county and totals 8.1 percent in Clark County.

The savings on a high-end $7,000 camera from the online sales tax loophole is significant, he said.

Shoppers visited his store to look at the merchandise, and then bought online, Kodey said. Or they bought an item online and came into his store to get help on how to work it, he said.

Kodey said he decided to sell the store two years ago because of the competitive pressures with online retailers.

Carson City resident John Wagner, representing the Independent American Party, opposed the resolution, saying it should be called the Internet tax bill.

Many online retailers, including Amazon and Zappos, collect and remit the sales taxes now. But others do not.

Gov. Brian Sandoval supports the Marketplace Fairness Act and worked out an agreement with Amazon to have the retailer voluntarily collect sales taxes on Nevada sales starting on Jan. 1, 2014.

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