By Scott Barman for the Gold & Silver PAC .....
From the Political Coordinator
Partisanship on Capitol Hill has gone from bad to worse. The staunch partisanship that was limited to the members and senior staff has now infected staffs on all sides. Although there are a few people who will talk with members of the opposing factions, it was apparent that battle lines have been drawn and that fraternization is not being tolerated.
Other than the controversial bills you hear about in the news, the House has been pumping out less controversial bills that do not require any bi-partisan support. These bills have been sent to the Senate and assigned to a committee.
Two bills that were addressed in past congresses that would address the collecting of sales taxes on interstate sales have not been introduced. Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who introduced the Remote Transactions Parity Act in the 114th congress, has not shown interest in weighing into this issue. A committee staff member said that the committee has other priorities and would leave this issue to other committees.
Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) has introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act every session since the 112th congress (2011). Sources say that Enzi has not discussed plans to introduce the bill in this session. However, there was a suggestion that Enzi may avoid the issue because of the growth of Internet-related small businesses that have located in his home state of Wyoming.
A bill that may be interesting to watch is Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 756) introduced by Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Aside from the usual attempts at reforming the Postal Service, the bill proposed to reduce door delivery services. If the bill passes, new residential and business addresses will be required to create centralized delivery centers rather than mail being delivered to the door. Established residential and business customers will be evaluated for transitioning to a centralized service.
A centralized delivery service may be a multi-mailbox lockbox area such as those used for townhomes and apartments. For retail businesses in a mall or industrial park, it would mean pickup and delivery would be to a single location in the area. This would also limit individual pickups from businesses that may rely on postal carriers that currently visit their business regularly. However, the bill does allow the Postal Service to enter related areas of the logistics business that could provide greater services to business shippers.
State Sales Tax Efforts
That is not to say the states aren't trying to do their part. In March, the Idaho House passed a bill to exempt the sale of precious metals bullion from being subject to capital gains (H0206). This is similar to the Arizona bill (HB2014) that passed their House in February. Both bills are currently in their state's respective Senates for consideration
eBay Main Street organizes fight against Nebraska bill
Noting that the bills are similar to those being fought in Alabama and South Dakota, eBay Main Street, the organizing arm of eBay's Government Affairs Division, launched a campaign opposing two bills that would require online retailers to collect sales taxes on goods shipped to Nebraska. Legislative Bills LB44 and LB564 both seek to require the collection of sales taxes for online purchases. Nebraska legislators hope that this bill will generate $30-40 million to help close a $900 million budgetary gap.
Battle brewing in New York
Groups representing large and small Internet retailers are joining forces in Albany to oppose Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal to have online retailers collect sales taxes from purchases in New York.
Online advocacy groups WE R HERE, TechNet, and the Internet Coalition jointly opened offices in Albany hoping to lobby the New York General Assembly to not pass such a law. Reports from Albany show that New York legislators are mixed and that there is nobody willing to predict the outcome.
Amazon strikes sales tax deal with New Mexico
As small online retailers are fighting against the collection of sales taxes on the Internet, Amazon has struck a deal with New Mexico to begin to collect sales taxes on sales they make in the state. Although the terms were not announced, these deals usually come with Amazon creating a presence in the state. Minimally, Amazon will install pickup kiosks that resemble package lockers in convenience stores and other establishments to securely hold purchases.
CBP Expands Mail Screening
Without notification, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has increased screening of international shipments. Following a number of stories from other businesses in the area about slow international shipments, especially into the United States, several calls were made to determine if there was a change in the Postal Service's processing procedures.
A source within the Postal Service said that the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the Postal Inspection Service has not changed the procedures they use to screen mail entering and leaving the United States. The USPS responds to threats and works with other government security organizations as necessary, but makes every effort to ensure the mail is processed smoothly. When pressed for more information, it was suggested that more information could be provided by CBP.
CBP responded by saying that they adjust their efforts based on threat assessments. However, it was suggested that packages crossing the border to or from certain countries require additional screening. CBP is screening packages from all services including commercial shipping services.
A public affairs officer from the Postal Inspection Service recommended shippers use a secured shipping service when sending or receiving international packages. The public affairs officer also recommended insuring items of value noting that although the Postal Service will include a note with the package if it was opened for inspection, notification is optional for CBP.
Summary of Numismatic-Related Legislation
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced the COINS Act in an attempt to eliminate the dollar bill in favor of the dollar coin. The bill will also eliminate the one-cent coin and reduce the production cost of the five-cent coin. A version of this bill has been introduced in every congress since Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) started in 1991.
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If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. "Letters to the Editor" are appreciated and may appear in a future newsletter.
Scott Barman, Political Coordinator for the Gold & Silver PAC
Barry Stuppler, Chairman Gold & Silver Political Action Committee