Senators voted 74-20 late yesterday to let debate proceed on the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, a measure that would require all online retailers with $1 million or more in annual out-of-state sales to collect sales taxes on behalf of every state where they sell. A final vote is expected shortly.
Currently only states in which online retailers have a physical presence can force those companies to collect sales tax. Otherwise, the burden falls to the customer to pay the required state sales tax on their online purchases, typically when they file their state income tax returns. Hardly anyone does, which has allowed Amazon, among others, to enjoy a huge price advantage over brick-and-mortar competitors.