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Online Sales Tax Bill Signed Amid Consumer Protection Concerns

December 17, 2019

Amazon, Overstock, Wayfair and other major online retailers must collect Michigan sales tax from third-party retailers who sell goods and services off their websites to Michigan customers under a four-bill package that was signed into law by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The expansion of Michigan’s online sales tax law to include Mike’s Sporting Goods, RareFinds or anyone else selling under a major retailer’s banner is expected to draw between $80 to $120 million more into the state, a change that has the support of the Department of Treasury, local governments and retailers.

Whitmer told the House in a letter, however, that she’s concerned that the new law’s ban on class-action suits against marketplace facilitators if there’s an issue with an overpayment of the sales tax will be harmful to consumers.

“This is an anti-consumer provision that could allow online operators to overcharge Michiganders under the guise of collecting sales tax by depriving consumers of an effective remedy,” Whitmer wrote.

“Michigan has some of the weakest consumers laws in the United State and the Legislature must take action to strengthen protections,” she added. “The Legislature should also assume I will not support future laws that contain these types of anti-consumer provisions.”

The bills signed into law were HB 4540, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids Twp.); HB 4541, sponsored by Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit); HB 4542, sponsored Rep. Michael Webber (R-Rochester Hills) and Rep. Tenisha Yancey (D-Harper Woods).

The other bill signed into law Thursday was HB 4306, sponsored by Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona), which requires a legal notice to include if the homeowners is a military service member on active duty, he or she should contact the attorney referenced on the legal notice.

The Michigan Press Association has advocated for the bill on the argument that those being foreclosed upon and the general public be given more information on the property in question.

Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) voted against moving the bill out of committee on the argument that the bill would add costs to the person being foreclosed upon through larger ads without providing them much assistance.

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