GOPers Caught 'Twixt Business, Activists

A House vote on a bill that would allow states to force online retailers to collect sales tax is a couple of months away, but the Republicans in the Tennessee delegation are being lobbied heavily. The state's two Democrats, Congressman Steve Cohen and Congressman Jim Cooper, support the bill, which as already passed the U.S. Senate.

But conservative critics have Tennessee's Republican House members jittery. Even though the bill is supported by the state's two Republican senators and Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, and House Speaker Beth Harwell (all Republicans), activists are calling support for the bill support for a tax increase. Large businesses in the state and chambers of commerce are also calling the congressmen to explain how the present system is hurting retailers' bottom line by giving their out-of-state competitors an advantage and urging a vote for the bill.

Amazon, which will begin collecting sales tax in Tennessee next year because it has facilities in state, is reportedly dropping its opposition to the bill. As the company expands distribution facilities nationwide, it is collecting sales tax in a lot of states already. The bill would allow states to force all online retailers to collect the sales tax owed.

Online retailers who do not collect the sales tax owed get a decided advantage over brick-and-mortar stores who must. In Tennessee the tax is over 9 percent.