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Marketplace Fairness Act passes US Senate

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A federal measure meant to level the retail playing field passed the U.S. Senate May 6, but some West Virginia businesses have said it would be unfair to them.

The Marketplace Fairness Act passed the Senate, and U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who co-sponsored the bill, said in a news release after the vote that it stands up for West Virginia's small businesses.

Click here to read our previous coverage of the issue.

Rockefeller is chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He said small, local businesses across both West Virginia and the country are losing out to large online retail companies that sell their goods without paying any state sales taxes.

"It just isn't fair," Rockefeller said in the news release. "This bill means online companies must compete fairly with our mom and pop shops, and makes sure our state doesn't keep losing more than $100 million in sales taxes each year, with a process that is simple and straightforward for taxpayers.

"We need to support our local businesses on Main Street to help keep our towns vibrant, while also letting online retailers thrive. This bill accomplishes both."

Right now, consumers are required to calculate and send in the taxes they owe for goods bought on the Internet, which most people don't do, because online companies are not required to collect and remit the sales tax. The bill would require all retailers collect and remit the same sales tax. It exempts small online businesses making less than $1 million in remote sales.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for its debate.