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    Tax Reform, e-Fairness Top RILA’s Legislative Agenda

    Group lays out key public policy goals for 2013

    The Retail Industry Leaders Association’s (RILA) has revealed its two biggest public policy priorities for 2013: the passage of comprehensive tax reform that lowers rates and simplifies compliance for corporations, consumers and small businesses, and to build on the accomplishments of the past two years to create a level playing field between online retailers and Main Street retailers in relation to sales tax collection.

    On Feb. 5, Arlington, Va.-based RILA released copies of the “Retail Industry Leaders Association 2013 Public Policy Agenda: Empowering Retailers and Consumers to Grow the Economy” to congressional offices.

    “Consumers and retailers can propel growth when the economic and regulatory environment empowers them to do so,” wrote RILA president Sandy Kennedy in a letter to members of Congress. “However, when those forces discourage consumer spending and retail investment, economic growth sputters, much as it is doing today. Consumers lack the confidence needed to drive substantial growth and disparate treatment under the tax code, and a morass of regulations undermine retailers’ ability to invest, grow and add jobs. More must be done to unleash the power of consumers and retailers to get our economy growing again.”

    The organization has led a range of recent efforts to address such crucial industry issues as the passage of debit swipe-fee reform.

    The retail industry pays among the highest domestic effective tax rates, at 36.4.percent -- more than 10 percentage points higher than the average for all other industries, according to the organization, which added that current laws governing sales-tax collection place Main Street retailers at a competitive disadvantage to their online-only rivals, as e-tailers are exempted in many states from collecting the sales tax owed on purchases made online, leading to a perceived price advantage.

    “RILA’s 2013 Public Policy Agenda focuses on those steps that policymakers can take this year to empower consumers and retailers to spend, invest and grow,” Kennedy noted in the letter to federal legislators.

    The rest of the association’s 2013 public policy priorities are health care, blocking “job-killing” labor regulations, consumer privacy, the extension of debit swipe-fee reforms to credit cards, and pursuing the adoption of simple, flexible rules of origin for apparel as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the expansion of the Information Technology Agreement.

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