Nancy Skinner to revive bill to tax online sales

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, is reviving her effort to make out-of-state, online-only retailers collect the same sales tax that California businesses must collect.

Skinner about two years ago had introduced Assembly Bill 178, which she said at the time was a stab at “leveling the playing field for California’s brick and mortar businesses” by requiring that out-of-state companies “which maintain a network in California and thus have a presence in the state” would have to collect sales taxes on orders received within the state. Her bill would’ve exempted businesses doing less than $10,000 worth of business per year in California, and she had estimated at the time that it would raise about $55 million in revenue per year.

The Council on State Taxation was among the bill’s opponents, saying it went against states’ efforts to simplify the sales and use tax laws, was unconstitutional, wasted audit resources better spent elsewhere, and would cost California jobs. Skinner eventually pulled the bill from a hearing agenda, and it died in committee early last year.

She’ll hold a news conference Wednesday on the State Capitol’s North Steps to announce her new bill. Among those scheduled to accompany her are California Retailers Association President and CEO Bill Dombrowski; California Federation of Teachers Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Smith; Barnes & Noble Vice President and General Counsel Gene DeFelice; and an array of small-business owners, teachers, public safety officers and community leaders.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.