Internet sales tax bill divides Republicans, vote looms in Senate

After holding firm against virtually any kind of tax increase, some congressional Republicans have found one that doesn’t make them cringe.

A contentious bill which could come for a final vote in the Senate as early as Thursday would empower states to make online retailers collect sales taxes for purchases made over the Internet. Though it would likely face more resistance in the House, where the anti-tax creed is more pronounced, a number of Senate Republicans — and Republican governors — are supporting the bill.

The legislation passed a test vote in the Senate Wednesday, 74 to 23, with 27 Republicans voting in favor. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., vowed to pass the bill this week, before senators leave for a scheduled vacation.

Some of the most powerful anti-tax advocacy groups in Washington are still fighting to block the bill. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, warns the bill would set a “precedent for further expansions of state-level tax collection authority.”

He said the bill is about “money-hungry state legislators.”

The Heritage Foundation says that “real conservatives” oppose the bill and that it would hurt online commerce and force small businesses to jump through new bureaucratic hoops.

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