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Internet Sales Tax Bill Opposition

Internet Sales Tax Bill Opposition Internet Sales Tax Bill Opposition

The Internet sales tax bill was approved on Monday with bipartisan support in the Senate with a 69 to 27 vote as the bill faces opposition in the House, where some lawmakers regard it as a tax increase. According to government estimates, in 2012 Internet sales in the U.S. totaled $226 billion, up nearly 16% from 2011. The law would require out-of-state retailers to collect sales taxes from Internet purchases from retailers such as Amazon and eBay, radio and TV ads then, send that tax to the state where the shopper resides. If the law is passed by the House, states must provide free computer software to help retailers calculate sales taxes, based on where shoppers live. States must also establish a single entity to receive Internet sales tax revenue, so retailers don’t have to send collected tax to individual counties or cities. The bill is to level the playing field and to assist cash strapped states. Current sales tax law only require retailers such as Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart to collect sales taxes if the merchant has a physical presence - office or distribution center - in the state. Along with lawmakers from states with no sales tax as well as several prominent anti-tax groups, eBay is leading the fight against the bill. Opponents of the bill indicate it would put an expensive obligation on small businesses because they are not as equipped as national merchandisers to collect and remit sales taxes at the multitude of state rates. Businesses with less than $1 million in online sales would be exempt however, eBay wants to exempt businesses with up to $10 million in sales or fewer than 50 employees.

The Federal Reserve reported Tuesday that U.S. consumers increased their debt during March by a seasonally adjusted $8.0 billion, for the smallest increase since July 2012. During March, monthly debt rose at a 3.4% annual rate, led by the non-revolving category of debt, such as auto loans, personal loans and student loans, which jumped $9.7 billion or at a 6.0% rate. Credit-card debt fell by $1.7 billion or a 2.4% rate for the biggest percentage decline since July 2012.

CoreLogic reported Tuesday that U.S. home prices climbed 1.9% during March, marking the 13th straight monthly rise and a 10.5% year-on-year gain. When excluding distressed sales, the monthly gain was 2.4%. Nevada saw a 22.2% year-on-year gain. California saw a 17.2% gain. Delaware, Alabama, Illinois and Virginia each saw year-on-year depreciation. CoreLogic's pending home price indicator points to a 1.3% monthly and 9.6% year-on-year gain for April.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced panelists for a roundtable scheduled for May 14 to consider reforms for the industry. Participants will include real estate investment trust Martin Hughes president of Redwood Trust Inc, Kermit Roosevelt professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School and Tom Deutsch executive director at the American Securitization Forum, top officials from Fimalac SA’s Fitch, McGraw-Hill Cos. Inc.'s Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Corp. The SEC, the nation's securities watchdog, is assembling a group of mortgage investors, analysts and academics to help figure out what to do about credit raters, bringing the agency one step closer to overhauling the industry made famous for its Triple-A ratings of subprime mortgage securities issued during the build-up to the financial crisis of 2008. The roundtable goal is to find a way to eliminate a practice known as “ratings shopping,” in which an investment bank hired by a corporation privately solicits preliminary ratings from multiple rating agencies for a securitized product and then only pays for and discloses the most favorable rating received. One of three panels led by the SEC will consist of participants will consider having the SEC create a government-mandated clearinghouse through which credit raters would be randomly assigned to handle ratings of structured finance product such as mortgage securities. Such an intermediary would be set up to dismantle the ratings shopping environment that currently encompasses the industry. The second panel will review ways to encourage unsolicited ratings from credit rating agencies, as a means of providing checks on primary ratings. The third panel is set to consider a wide variety of other models, including one where firms would continue to pick their raters but the agency would be compensated through transaction fees over the life of the security paid for by both the rater and investor.


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May 7, 2013


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