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E-Fairness act is good for Idaho business

David Lancaster Guns on campus, Add The Words and the ag gag bill dominated the 2013 legislative session. To many people it appears those were the only issues discussed at the Statehouse this year. But did you know your lawmakers stood up for Idaho businesses?

Near the very end of the session, lawmakers passed a bill that created a statewide savings account for future online sale tax revenue to be collected. Today the account sits empty, but when money starts coming in, Idahoans will see tax relief. To get that tax cut, we need help from Congress. The one person who has the power to help make that happen is Congressman Raul Labrador.

Congressman Labrador sits on the House Judiciary Committee. Right now, his committee is discussing the e-Fairness Act, a bill passed by the Senate that gives states the freedom to collect state sales tax from online retailers. The e-Fairness Act is crucial for brick-and-mortar businesses across the United States. Congressman Labrador has the chance to help Idaho’s businesses and taxpayers by moving the e-Fairness out of committee and to the entire House for debate. However, Idaho is still waiting for him to take action.

It is no secret Idaho supports the e-Fairness Act. Idaho lawmakers took a proactive approach by passing the bill and Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed it. It’s now Congressman Labrador’s turn to be proactive and fight for Idaho businesses and taxpayers.

Passing the e-Fairness Act would help level the playing field for all retailers, whether they are online or on Main Street. Currently, online retailers have a 6 percent price advantage over Idaho stores. Idaho retailers are required to collect state sales tax on every item sold. Online retailers do not have the same obligation.

I know people say the lack of state sales tax is not why people shop online. People argue it’s because online vendors have more competitive pricing and are convenient, which is sometimes the case. However, I can tell you for a fact people have come into my store, tried on a specific suit to make sure it fit just right and left to buy it online. This doesn’t just happen in my shop;  it happens to retailers all across the state. People test out electronics, try on jewelry and make sure the couch is as comfortable as it looks, and once they can feel it and see it in person, they head online to make their final purchase.

But for Idahoans passing the e-Fairness Act isn’t just about helping businesses, it is about providing tax relief to all residents. The tax commission estimates Idaho should collect around $42 million each year in online sales tax revenue. With the bill Idaho lawmakers just passed, all that money would be put toward a state tax cut if the e-Fairness Fairness Act passes.

Congressman Raul Labrador has the power to help Idaho business owners like me and taxpayer like you.

David Lancaster owns Nafziger’s Men’s Store. He has been a leader in the Nampa business community for 30 years and he continues to be an advocate for small businesses across Idaho.

About David Lancaster


  1. I go online and find the best price. Then go to the store to try it on. Then, if I like it I say I found this online for x,y, z price. Will you match it if I buy this now? Most stores come very close and I will then buy local. We don’t need laws for this we need people to interact and take responsibility for their own outcome and not the government.

  2. There are several things missing from this Idaho legislation. SInce Idaho has abandoned SSUTA membership, S743 (Bill passed in the US Senate) requires States 3 simplification standards. 1) single point collection, 2) single point audits and 3) offer ‘free’ tax software for online merchants. The Idaho legislation does not address any of these requirements.
    “Level Playing Field’? It’s level now as all online businesses based in Idaho collect Idaho Sales Tax now. Idaho also requires residents that buy online from cross border States to pay Use Tax on items purchased. It’s a line item on your tax form. Enforce existing law first before writing new bad law.
    Want the new bad law? Fine. I’m sure online business and B&Ms w an online presence will be overjoyed to collect/remit sales tax to the other 45 States, and be subject to audits from CA, NJ, NY, WA, and the other 600 ‘States’ as defined in the Senate bill.
    The street works both ways. We talk about States Rights, but the State of Idaho has no business making me in South Carolina be a Idaho tax collector … one that gets no compensation, faced with undue compliance costs, and a tax software package that crashes my website (we ll know how well the ACA website works) …. and back at ya. Should South Carolina have the right to go after Idaho businesses for SC tax collection and Audits from same?

    Be careful what you wish for.