Supporters of a bill requiring online retailers to collect the state sales tax on purchases made by Nebraskans might need more votes.
Gov. Pete Ricketts indicates he might veto LB 44, advanced to the second round of debate by the Unicameral on Tuesday.
Supporters of the measure argue two points. One, it would bring in between $30-to-40 million annually to a state which badly needs revenue. Two, it would even the playing field between traditional brick-and-mortar retailers in Nebraska which collect sales taxes on purchases and online retailers which normally do not collect sales taxes.
Gov. Ricketts, though, issued the following statement after the Revenue Committee advanced the bill to the floor for debate.
“Passing a law at the state level to collect online sales tax has the potential to place Nebraska’s budget on shaky ground. Similar state-level proposals have been found unconstitutional as recently as last week, and there are other cases pending in federal courts. Enforcement of online state sales tax is an issue that must be addressed, but it can only be handled properly by Congress at the federal level or a change in direction from the Supreme Court. Until then, the State of Nebraska will continue to work to bring online businesses into voluntary compliance.”
Opponents of the bill in the legislature made similar points during legislative floor debate.
State Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse, sponsor of LB 44, succeeded in securing preliminary approval of the bill on a 28 to 13 vote. Six senators did not vote. That total leaves Watermeier two short of the total needed to override a potential veto by the governor.