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Small Businesses Rally Together Virtually to Launch the WE R HERE Coalition

Web enabled retailers from around the country join together to lend their voice to the public debate around innovation, job creation and small business tax policy

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Today, nearly 1,000 small businesses will announce the launching of the Web Enabled Retailers Helping Expand Retail Employment – or the WE R HERE – coalition. To mark the occasion, several web enabled retailers from around the country will gather on a Google Hangout On Air to formally introduce the coalition. They will share with viewers of the launch how additional red tape would threaten their business.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120912/DC72675LOGO)

WE R HERE will provide these retailers – who are operating out of cities and towns across America – a unified voice on issues that are important to small businesses including taxes, jobs and the economy. Their voices have been largely overlooked in critical policy debates – including the one around Internet sales tax that is taking place in Washington today.

“It is not the job of small businesses to collect taxes for state and local governments where they don’t live, do business or receive government services – it is unfair, unwise and it will undermine innovation,” said Phil Bond, Executive Director of WE R HERE and formerly the Under Secretary for Technology at the Commerce Department and former President of TechAmerica. “This is not the time for governments to pile regulations on small businesses – it is unfair, unwise and it will undermine innovation.”

“Web enabled retailers are critical to the future of our economy, expanding retail competition and providing consumers with a greater array of choice,” Bond continued. “We formed the coalition because these small business retailers – our members – should be heard when policymakers make decisions that will impact their businesses and their potential to grow.”

Online commerce has revolutionized American small business by allowing a Main Street store anywhere to become a Main Street store everywhere. Americans benefit from having more product choices, availability and competitive pricing. Small online retail businesses in thousands of U.S. communities are using the Internet to grow and create jobs in their hometowns. But current proposed Internet sales tax legislation threatens to harm consumers and crush the growth and job creation potential of small online retailers. “In this economy, we should be rewarding innovative small businesses, not punishing them with undue burdens,” said Bond.

“With over 9,600 tax jurisdictions across the country, the thought of taking on new tax burdens that this legislation is trying to impose is truly frightening,” said Tracy Johnson, WE R HERE member and owner of several small businesses in Nebraska that sell body jewelry and hair care products online. “The excessive sales tax paperwork would effectively close the door of opportunity on me while I continue the delicate process of transforming my business from a solo venture into a job creating, tax revenue generating entity.”

Small businesses already face proportionally higher operating costs compared to large national retailers, and the proposed legislation would further undermine their ability to compete and continue to drive online innovation. “I’ve tried to keep my business small enough to provide personalized service, but the proposed sales tax legislation would undermine my ability to stay home with my children while making a living doing what I love. This tax policy shouldn’t penalize small, local business owners by making them tax collectors,” said Brandi Tolley, an Army veteran from Illinois and owner of an online store specializing in Big and Tall men’s clothing.

WE R HERE gives web enabled retailers a unified voice, demonstrating to government policy makers and opinion leaders the positive role online small businesses play in today’s economy. Following today’s launch, coalition members aim to mobilize other online retailers to work together to protect themselves and other businesses from misguided Internet sales tax regulations that could hurt jobs and undermine innovation.

“The crux of the sales tax issue is a question of fairness. It’s clear that we need a tax policy that creates jobs and gives entrepreneurs and small business owners a chance to grow,” said Joe Cortese, owner of a major wholesale supplier of coins. “Though my business is based in New Hampshire, a sales-tax free state, I would still be required to collect and remit sales taxes for other states essentially becoming a tax collector for 49 states in which I don’t reside.”

For more information about the WE R HERE coalition and its members, visit http://werherecoalition.org.

WE R HERE is a coalition comprised of small web enabled retailers around the country who are using the Internet and are coming together to ensure government policies are enacted that create a fair marketplace for all types of retail businesses to thrive and innovation to prosper. WE R HERE gives small web enabled retailers a unified voice, demonstrating to government policy makers and opinion leaders the positive role of online small business retail in the 21st Century economy. The coalition effort mobilizes online retailers to work together to protect them from misguided and predatory laws and regulations that could kill jobs and undermine innovation.


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