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.