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EBay On The Marketplace Fairness Act: To Believe Or Not To Believe?

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Alliance for Main Street Fairness (AMSF) issued the following statement to highlight eBay's hypocrisy regarding the Marketplace Fairness Act, which is scheduled for a final vote in the U.S. Senate on Monday, May 6.

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First, eBay calls on Congress to reject ANY e-fairness legislation. Tod Cohen, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel of Global Government Relations at eBay Inc, says: "Congress should reject any Internet sales tax legislation that throws a new tax barrier in front of small businesses." ( Brendan Sasso, " Lawmakers Claim Momentum In Push For Internet Sales Tax ," The Hill , 2/14/2013)

Then, eBay's senior director of public policy, Brian Bieron, says the company could put up with a $30 Million "Small Seller" exemption. eBay's senior director of global public policy, Brian Bieron, says the Marketplace Fairness Act's exemption for retailers with less than $1 million in out-of-state sales "is not nearly high enough and is completely arbitrary. He says that the U.S. Small Business Administration has definitions for what constitutes a small business, and that it has determined that a company that deals in "electronic shopping" is small until it reaches $30 million in revenue — or 30 times the exemption level." ( Tricia Duryee, "eBay Contends That Sales Tax Proposal Will Hurt Small Businesses , " All Things D, 2/16/2013)

In fact, Bieron tells the press that eBay supported a previous version of the bill with a higher exemption.

"The latest version of the Marketplace Fairness Act includes an exemption for online sellers who made less than $1 million in the previous calendar year, but eBay thinks that's still too low. "That's not close to anybody's definition of a small business," said Brian Bieron, eBay's senior director of public policy. He said eBay fully supported a previous version of the Marketplace Fairness Act that exempted small businesses according to higher Small Business Administration thresholds." ( Janet Cho, " E-fairness proponents hope 2013 Marketplace Fairness Act will collect billions in unpaid online taxes , " The Plain Dealer, 3/2/2013)

Meanwhile, eBay's Government Relations team says the Marketplace Fairness Act is unconstitutional. From the Twitter page for ebay Inc. Government Relations ‏ @ebaygr: "@StandWithMainSt Constitution = remit tax where you have a presence and don't tax small [businesses] where they don't have presence."

And finally, eBay CEO John Donahue says they've always supported the concept, and decides a $10 Million exemption would be enough "to protect small online businesses."

"The solution is simple: if Congress passes online sales tax legislation, we believe small businesses with less than 50 employees or less than $10 million in annual out-of-state sales should be exempt from the burden of collecting sales taxes nationwide."  ( John Donahue, Internet Sales Tax Campaign Email to U.S. eBay B2C Sellers, April 21, 2013)

So, which eBay should we believe? What will they tell Congress next?

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