Best Buy Co. Inc. has hired Blank Rome's lobbying subsidiary to help push for legislation that would allow states to collect sales taxes from online and catalog retailers located anywhere in the United States.
Blank Rome Government Relations principals Shimon Stein and J. Michael Hogan, who work on tax policy among other matters at the firm, are advocating for the Richfield, Minn.-based electronics retailer on the Marketplace Fairness Act, according to lobbying registration paperwork filed with Congress on Tuesday.
The bill, which died in a committee during the last Congress, was reintroduced in February and has the necessary support to overcome a potential filibuster. On a 75-24 vote last month, the legislation passed the U.S. Senate as an amendment to the chamber's non-binding fiscal 2014 budget resolution, showing that the measure has the requisite 60 votes to get an up-or-down vote.
Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), who introduced the legislation in 2011 and 2013, noted Best Buy's support for the bill in material he released in February. He said in a written statement that the inability of states to gather sales taxes from retailers outside their borders is "one of the largest tax loopholes of our lifetime."
"The federal government should not favor some businesses over other businesses and some taxpayers over other taxpayers," Enzi said. "It’s time to stop discriminating through the tax code and put local and Main Street retailers on a level playing field with their out-of-state and online counterparts."
Best Buy spent $2 million on federal lobbying in 2012, congressional records show. For its advocacy efforts, the retailer used its own staffers, as well as lobbyists from Kountoupes | Denham.
Barnes & Thornburg was registered to lobby for Best Buy last year. But it didn't report any lobbying activity in 2012 for Best Buy before it submitted a lobbying termination report for the company in January.