U.S. House to hold July 24 hearing on bill that would allow states to collect sales tax on purchases from out-of-state retailers, including online retailers; Wal-Mart is one of bill's key supporters

LONDON , July 20, 2012 () – The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing July 24 on a bill that would allow states to collect sales tax from out-of-state retailers who sell to state residents, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is a prime supporter of the bill, Bloomberg reported July 19.

Online retailers for years have enjoyed a sales-tax advantage over traditional stores because of a rule that allows them to escape sales-tax collection from residents of states in which the company does not have a physical presence.

Congressman Steve Womack, an Arkansas Republican, confirmed that Wal-Mart is pushing the bill, saying it is one of the retailer's top issues.

About half of Wal-Mart's customers also shop at Amazon.com, up from about 25% five years ago, according to Kantar Retail, Bloomberg reported.

Wal-Mart has been upgrading its website, but its web sales still account for only about 2% of sales.

Wal-Mart has stepped up its lobbying presence in Washington in recent years, spending nearly US$8 million on lobbying in 2011, Bloomberg reported.

The primary source of this article is Bloomberg, New York, New York, on July 19, 2012.

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