Exclusive: EBay recruits users in push against sales tax legislation

Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:19am EDT
 
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By Alistair Barr

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - EBay Inc Chief Executive John Donahoe began emailing millions of users of the company's online marketplace on Sunday in an unprecedented lobbying effort to change looming Federal sales tax legislation.

The e-commerce giant plans to send emails from Donahoe to at least 40 million eBay users, including most sellers on the marketplace. The first messages were sent out Sunday morning.

In the emails, Donahoe said the legislation, known as the Marketplace Fairness Act, unfairly burdens small online merchants and asked eBay users to send an email message to members of Congress asking for changes.

The legislation, due to be voted on by the Senate in coming days, gives states the power to compel retailers outside their borders to collect online sales tax. Currently, states can only require merchants with a physical presence within their borders to collect.

The legislation includes an exemption for merchants that generate less than $1 million in annual out-of-state revenue.

Donahoe argued in the emails that merchants with less than $10 million in annual out-of-state sales, or fewer than 50 employees, should be exempt. Reuters viewed copies of the emails.

In emails to eBay sellers, Donahoe singled out Amazon.com Inc, eBay's main rival, which supports the current legislation.

"This legislation treats you and big multi-billion dollar online retailers - such as Amazon - exactly the same," Donahoe wrote. "Those fighting for this change refuse to acknowledge that the burden on businesses like yours is far greater than for a big national retailer."   Continued...

 
The results of a Google image search on Ebay are shown on a monitor in this photo illustration in Encinitas, California, April 16, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake