Last Friday, during the Vote-O-Rama on the Senate’s FY 2014 Budget Resolution, the Senate voted to approve an amendment offered by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) regarding the online sales tax issue. Sen. Durbin announced “75 U.S. Senators showed their support for the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013,” and characterized the amendment as “an amendment summarizing the bill.” Many news reports seemed to accept this portrayal implicitly, some even stating that the amendment “mirrors” the Marketplace Fairness Act, or that it was a “vote to include Marketplace Fairness.” However, as we stated earlier this week, the Durbin amendment does not a Marketplace Fairness Act make.
The amendment’s actual wording says that it is for “allowing States to enforce State and local use taxes already owed under State law on remote sales by the amounts provided in such legislation.” Is this an accurate summary of the Marketplace Fairness Act? Not unless “summarizing” means getting to leave out all of the details that make the bill so controversial in the first place. Does it “mirror” the bill? Not unless you use a mirror so blurry you are unable to make out the most basic features.