By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congressman Mo Brooks (R) from Huntsville is asking constituents of Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District for their input on a controversial proposal to make Alabamians pay sales taxes on their internet shopping purchases. Many Alabama leaders including conservatives like Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R), have in the past expressed support for such legislation.
Representative Brooks wrote in an email to his constituents, “Alabama retailers visit my office on a regular basis asking me to support legislation that forces Alabama internet users to pay Alabama sales taxes on internet purchases from non-Alabama internet retailers.”
Rep. Brooks continued, “Generally speaking, Alabama retailers argue (a) current law puts brick and mortar retailers at a price disadvantage because their customers have to pay costly sales taxes while internet customers don’t have to pay sales taxes, (b) Alabama loses retail store jobs because of lost sales to internet retailers, and (c) under current Alabama law, Alabama citizens already owe sales taxes on all internet sales but are not paying them because the State of Alabama lacks enforcement mechanisms.”
Rep. Brooks said, “Generally speaking, opponents of the internet sales tax legislation argue that the proposed federal legislation (a) forces struggling American families to suffer from even higher sales tax burdens, (b) costs internet retailers jobs by shifting sales from internet retailers to brick and mortar retailers, and (c) places an onerous compliance burden on internet retailers who would have to comply with thousands of different sales tax rates across America.”
Congressman Brooks asked in his email for constituent to share their opinion on how they prefer he vote on this issue. Rep. Brooks even included a poll on the subject. The poll question is worded: “Should Congressman Brooks vote for or against federal legislation that forces Alabama residents to pay sales taxes on internet sales?” Yes or no.
In a related internet issue on Tuesday, July 15 Representative Brooks voted for, and the House passed, H.R. 3086, the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act. Congressman Brooks is a cosponsor of H.R. 3086, which permanently bans state and local governments from taxing Internet access, or imposing discriminatory Internet-specific taxes on items like email or bandwidth. Current law temporarily bans Internet taxes until November 1, 2014.
Rep. Brooks stated, “The Internet has been a tremendous low-cost, economic boon and informational resource for America and the world. The Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act protects the Internet by thwarting efforts to tax it to the point that it becomes cost prohibitive. The Act also ensures Americans can continue to conduct business and access the Internet free from discriminatory taxes, which in turn gives Internet-related companies the certainty they need to grow and create needed jobs.”
Brooks concluded, “President Ronald Reagan once noted that the ‘Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.’ I believe it is important to stop Internet taxes before the Internet, as President Reagan warned, becomes so heavily taxed that it stops moving.”
Congressman Morris “Mo” Brooks represents the Fifth Congressional District and is seeking a third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. The popular Republican congressman easily defeated his primary opponent Jerry Hill and no Democrat qualified to run in the conservative fifth district.