The idea is still alive – and now Gov. Gregoire is calling on Congress to approve the proposal as part of the negotiations to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
If enacted, the federal Marketplace Fairness Act could provide the state with an extra $560 million in sales-tax revenue in the 2013-15 biennium, the revenue department estimates. Local governments would take in an extra $175 million in the same period. Those amounts would increase significantly in subsequent biennia as compliance improves and online sales grow.
Washington could start collecting taxes within 90 days after a congressional OK because Washington is one of 24 states to adopt the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement. The Legislature authorized that in 2007.
The federal act would set aside a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision that excused online retailers from collecting sales taxes from customers who live in states where the retailer lacks a physical presence. Supporters of the bill say it would level the playing field for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers who must collect state and local taxes on sales in their stores.