SSUTA President Urges Repeal of Essential-Clothing Amendment

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PHOENIX—The departing president of the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board Inc. Dec. 30 called for repeal of the organization's essential-clothing amendment by April 2010 if neither Connecticut nor Massachusetts has joined the membership of participating states by then.
President John Doyle of West Virginia made the remark in the executive committee teleconference marking the end of his term as governing board president.
The amendment was adopted on Feb. 26, 2009, to allow states that had a sales or use tax threshold for clothing in place on Jan. 1, 2006, to retain that threshold while coming into compliance with the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement.
It was designed to remove a stumbling block and allow Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York to sign on to the agreement if those states so chose (38 DTR H-1, 3/2/09).
Massachusetts state Rep. Mark V. Falzone (D), a leading streamlined advocate in the state's Legislature, told BNA Dec. 30 he was disappointed by Doyle's remark. “It's been the governing board's waffling on vendor compensation that has been one of the causes for the delay in Massachusetts,” he said, adding that giving too much compensation would be unacceptable.
He described prospects in his state for passage of streamlined conforming legislation as good, but added Massachusetts will keep a close watch on the outcome of the vendor compensation issue.
Doyle: Amendment Created ‘Element of Mistrust.’
Doyle said that the adoption of the amendment created “an element of mistrust” among members of the Business Advisory Council, and was a factor in delaying introduction of federal streamlined sales tax legislation in Congress during his term as president.
“I am convinced, folks, that we made a mistake passing the essential clothing amendment. I think that has been one of the reasons that the business community has been leery of some of the language that we want in the federal bill,” he said. “I think they suspect that we might not be really reasonable from their point of view, and I think that is one of the things that held up the introduction of the federal bill.”
If Massachusetts and Connecticut have not joined by the time the governing board meets April 29-30 in Washington, D.C., the group should repeal the amendment, he said. Only one executive committee member voiced support for Doyle's remark.
New SSUTA Officers for 2010 Take Effect Jan. 1
New officers for the Streamlined organization take effect Jan. 1. Jerry Johnson of Oklahoma, commissioner of the Oklahoma Tax Commission, replaces Doyle as president.
Indiana state Sen. Luke Kenley (R) becomes first vice president, while Russ Brubaker of Washington state, the senior assistant director for tax policy with the state revenue department, becomes second vice president.
The new secretary-treasurer is Richard Dobson, executive director, office of sales and excise taxes, for the Kentucky Department of Revenue.
By William H. Carlile