SOURCE: Michigan Retailers Association

Michigan Retailers Association

November 27, 2012 16:27 ET

Michigan Retailers Association: Retailers Urge Passage of Main Street Fairness

LANSING, MI--(Marketwire - Nov 27, 2012) - Michigan Retailers Association (MRA) today urged lawmakers to enact Main Street Fairness legislation to both level the playing field for Michigan retail businesses and pay for personal property tax relief and other steps to continue to reinvent the state's economy.

The House Tax Policy Committee is scheduled to take up both personal property tax relief and Main Street Fairness legislation on Wednesday.

"Now is the perfect time to pass Main Street Fairness, because holiday shopping has focused increased attention on the importance of Michigan's retail industry to the state's economy," said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan.

"Cyber Monday set records for online shopping and underlined the need for state government to treat all retailers the same and not favor out-of-state businesses at the expense of Michigan jobmakers. At the same time, legislators are looking at ways to be able to provide substantial personal property tax relief to job-creating businesses.

"Providing personal property tax relief is an important way to help Michigan businesses grow and create jobs. Paying for that relief by leveling the playing field for Michigan retail businesses is a double win for Michigan's economic future."

A loophole in current law allows out-of-state online retailers, because they don't have a physical presence in the state, to avoid collecting sales tax on merchandise sold to Michigan residents. Although online shoppers are legally required to pay the sales tax when they file their income tax returns in April, few are aware or comply with the law. That costs the state more than $400 million in lost sales tax annually and hurts Michigan-based retailers.

Research firm Public Sector Consultants concluded last year that a level playing field would increase sales at Michigan retailers by as much as $126 million per year and create up to 1,600 additional retail jobs.

The Michigan Main Street Fairness Act, House bills 5004 and 5005, would expand the definition of physical presence to require more out-of-state retailers, including Amazon, to collect and remit the tax for consumers.

Michigan Retailers Association represents nearly 5,000 businesses and their more than 15,000 stores and websites in Michigan. Retail is responsible for nearly one in five jobs in Michigan's economy: 405,000 direct jobs in retail stores and more than 385,000 jobs in related and supporting industries.

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