(NEW YORK) – The Jewelers of America Political Action Committee (JAPAC) continues to grow its legislative influence on Capitol Hill, as the group led a delegation of jewelers to Washington, D.C., for the fifth consecutive year. This year’s meetings – which connected jewelers with over 30 lawmakers and legislative staff – took place on June 17. The fly-in was well-timed, as the group capitalized on the opportunity to discuss a new sales tax fairness bill – the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA) – that was introduced by Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 15.
Discussion centered on the legislation, which would level the playing field between online and brick-and-mortar businesses. The group met with key supporters, including Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who in addition to introducing the bill serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which will oversee any initial action taken on the bill.
“Traditional jewelers are losing sales to online competitors because we are required to collect sales tax on purchases made in our stores. We want to be able to compete with these sellers on a level playing field,” says JAPAC Board Chair Jenny Caro, owner of Jewelry by Design in Woodbridge, VA. “We applaud Congressman Chaffetz for introducing legislation which will enable us to do so.”
In addition to Chaffetz, the group met with other prominent Members of Congress, including fellow RTPA sponsor Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), George Holding (R-NC), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, John Shimkus (R-IL), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Senators Ben Sasse (R-NE), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Richard Burr (R-NC).
“We need to make sure we’re giving you a fighting chance,” Rep. Stivers, a cosponsor of the RTPA told the group. “This is about making sure the stores in our communities have a level playing field with the stores that aren’t in our communities.”
The discussion continued to focus on the need for jewelers to stay proactive on sales tax fairness, which they can do through JA’s online Advocacy Center at www.jewelers.org.
“We have momentum and we have key champions in the House and Senate who want to get this passed and they need our industry to stand behind them,” says JA President & CEO David J. Bonaparte. “We’re working hard to mobilize Jewelers of America members – and the industry at large – by targeting key lawmakers to support, sponsor and ultimately pass sales tax fairness.”
In addition to Bonaparte, the group consisted of JA Director of Public Affairs & Education Susan Thea Posnock, and JA members – including members of the JAPAC Board and JA’s Board of Directors – representing a variety of jewelry retail firms.
Besides e-fairness, discussions also centered on the protection of LIFO – the last-in, first-out accounting method. LIFO repeal is an attractive revenue raising option for some legislators and the Obama administration, which has repeatedly sought repeal.
Jewelers also discussed extension of 15-year leasehold improvements depreciation. Currently, improvements made to retail stores must be depreciated over 39 years. JA supports inclusion of the 15-year depreciation provision in a retroactive tax extenders package, expected to be taken up by Congress later this year. In the long-term, the association believes the provision should be made permanent as part of overall tax reform.
The meetings were part of a two-day agenda that included a tour of the Supreme Court and presentations from political strategists from both sides of the aisle. Three JAPAC fundraising events were also organized by JA’s D.C.-based legislative counsel, Haake Fetzer.
The following JA Members took part in the trip:
- Brian Alter, Alter’s Gem Jewelry; Beaumont, TX (JA member)
- Jenny Caro, Jewelry by Design; Woodbridge, VA (JAPAC Board Chair, JA Board)
- Bill Farmer Jr., Farmer’s Jewelers; Lexington, KY (JAPAC Board, JA Board Chairman)
- Michael and Eva Greene, Wick & Greene; Asheville, NC (JA members)
- Missy Krause, Signet Jewelers Ltd.; Akron, OH (JA member)
- Brian Mann, David Mann Jewelers; Potomac, MD (JA Board)
- Betsy Wolgemuth, Koser Jewelers; Mount Joy, PA (JA Board)
JAPAC is the only PAC that supports the fine jewelry industry in Washington, D.C. To learn more, visit www.jewelers.org/japac/.