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BOISE -- There's a new push in the Gem State toward an online sales tax.

While the controversial issue is debated in Washington, local lawmakers are taking their own steps toward what some call a level playing field for businesses.

IDAHO LEGISLATION

Idaho House Bill 593 would start a savings account, if the Marketplace Fairness Act ever becomes law.

The bill has passed the House and is now in the Senate.

Boise businesses hope it becomes law before this legislative session ends.

If so, the Gem State would be ready to accept an estimated $50 million a year in online taxes.

BUSINESSES RESPOND

It's something that local businesses have been pushing for for years -- an online sales tax.

For our brick and mortar stores absolutely we've seen a difference and we don't want anything special, we just want to play on a level playing field, said Idaho Camera owner Pat Nagel.

Nagel says the disadvantage of charging a sales tax is costing him business.

He's glad some Idaho lawmakers now have joined the fight as well.

I'm very encouraged, very encouraged, because here in Idaho we haven't taken a lot of steps toward this so when I see this, I'm very encouraged and happy, said Nagel.

The Idaho Retailers Association tells us they are pleased as well that some local lawmakers seem to be backing the bill.

This really is a first step in leveling the playing field, says Idaho Retailers Association President Pam Eaton.

The Idaho Retailers Association says it's one step of many, but sends a message that Idaho businesses want to compete fairly with stores online.

If passed, when you make a purchase online you would pay Idaho's six percent sales tax, then the vendor would send that six percent back to Idaho and the money, an estimated $50 million a year, would be used for a tax cut.

Any kind of tax cut out there, but the two most popular are lowering the sales tax and lowering income tax because that would be an across the board cut for everyone, said Eaton.

No matter what Idaho does, nothing will change unless the Marketplace Fairness Act passes, but local businesses are now more hopeful.

Ultimately Congress needs to act and we are closer than we've ever been before, and retailers are very excited, said Eaton.

Currently, you're supposed to report sales tax for items you buy online, but most people don't actually do that.

In fact, the Idaho Retailers Association says just 1 percent of Idahoans actually pay those taxes.

As for the Marketplace Fairness Act, it's now in front of the House Judiciary Committee.

Businesses say they're still uncertain if it will pass this year.

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