Retailers applaud Gov. Snyder’s signing of Main Street Fairness legislation

LANSING – Michigan’s retail industry applauded Gov. Snyder’s signing today of the Main Street Fairness bills and said the new law marks a giant step forward in leveling the retail playing field for Michigan businesses competing against out-of-state online merchants.

“Thank you, Governor, and our legislative bill sponsors, for your leadership on this issue of critical importance to the future of retail businesses and retail jobs in Michigan,” said MRA board member Barb Stein, of Great Northern Trading Co. in Rockford, who spoke at the bill signing ceremony in the governor’s office.

“It’s not just retail businesses that will benefit from this legislation. We are part of the fabric of our local communities, and our communities and our residents are hurt when we are hurt by unfair competition…

“All we asked for was that out-of-state merchants no longer be given an unfair competitive advantage over those of us doing business here in Michigan. And that’s what this legislation does. It treats us fairly.”

The bipartisan legislation, enacted by lawmakers in the final hours of the 2013-14 legislative session, takes effect October 1.

Under federal law, out-of-state merchants are not required to collect a state’s sales tax on goods they sell to residents unless the remote sellers have “nexus” – a physical presence such as a store or warehouse – in that state.

The new Main Street Fairness law would redefine physical presence to include certain practices that out-of-state companies are using to generates sales in Michigan either online or through phone or catalog sales. These include selling through subsidiaries, affiliate networks or other persons with substantial nexus in the state.

Not all out-of-state merchants would be required to collect sales tax, only those that fall under the law’s expanded definition of physical presence. But Gov. Snyder and retailers called it an important step forward for Michigan businesses and the jobs they provide.

“This is history-making legislation and a great victory for the home team,” said MRA President and CEO James P. Hallan.

Two of the three legislative bill sponsors participated in the signing ceremony, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) and former Rep. Eileen Kowall (R-White Lake Township). Rep. Rob VerHeulen (R-Walker) was unable to attend.

Other local retailers participating were MRA board member Becky Beauchine Kulka, of Becky Beauchine Kulka Diamonds and Fine Jewelry in Okemos, and Cliff Yankovich of Chimera Design in Lowell.