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May 08. 2014 8:45PM

Online entrepreneur from Somersworth helping fight proposed Internet sales tax

SOMERSWORTH — To help his company remain competitive, a local businessman joined counterparts from across the nation to voice his concerns about creating a sales tax for Internet businesses.

David Lahme, president and co-founder of TradePort USA, said he and four fellow online entrepreneurs, including two from eBay Inc., met with U.S. Sen Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. and with representatives from the offices of U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., and U.S. Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H. in Washington, D.C. April 29 and 30.

“We had 105 different meetings,” Lahme said, adding the 45-member group split up into teams and met with about a quarter of Congress during the two-day period.

All four members of the New Hampshire delegation have been adamantly against the Marketplace Fairness Act and the idea of creating an Internet sales tax, arguing that it would place an unfair burden on merchants, especially in a state where they otherwise do not have to collect sales taxes.

While the bill passed in the Senate by a vote of 67 to 27 in May 2013, Lahme said the U.S. House of Representatives has not considered the matter. He added it could be combined with another issue to get it through Congress.

“It’s been touted as ’no big deal’ because the 45 other states have a sales tax,” Lahme said. Alaska, Delaware, Montana and Oregon also have no sales tax.

“We’re kind of a minority because the rest of the states are collecting (sales) taxes,” Lahme said, adding the state would not benefit from the sales taxes, which would provide revenues in more than 9,600 jurisdictions spread across the nation.

Lahme’s company, TradePort USA, employs 14 people. It helps manufacturers, and distributors recoup their investment on returned, open box, distressed, and overstock consumer electronics products.

In a statement, Shaheen, who voted against the proposal, said “allowing other states to collect sales taxes from New Hampshire’s small businesses would be burdensome and unfair, which is why I’m fighting the Internet sales tax legislation.”

Ayotte, who also voted against the bill, continues to fight the measure by urging House leadership not to bring it up for a vote.

Kuster previously said the legislation would have a devastating impact on New Hampshire’s businesses, particularly those that conduct most of their business online. She added she is more hopeful since the House appeared to be more resistant to the measure than the Senate.

In a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, Shea-Porter asked him not to bring it to the floor in its current form.

“I feel that it is unfair to force companies to collect taxes for another state when they will not receive any benefits from a similar state sales tax,” Shea-Porter said.



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