In early May, 22 eBay Sellers from 18 states visited Washington DC’s Capitol Hill and joined 3 eBay Executives for eBay’s 12th annual US of eBay Advocacy Day event. Put on by the eBay Government Relations team every year, this event allows eBay sellers to meet with Federal officials and advocate for sound ecommerce public policy. Members of Congress and administration officials are provided with the opportunity to hear directly from small business constituents who add jobs and create economic value in their state or district. This year’s event coincided with National Small Business Week, helping to amplify critical messages around promotion of small business opportunities even more.
“As we’ve done since 2003, this annual event gives our sellers an opportunity to make their voices heard on Capitol Hill,” said Sharon McBride, Sr. Director of External Affairs for the eBay Government Relations team. “We are always looking to innovate and this year we launched the eBay Celebrates Small Business Seller Showcase. Over 300 Congressional members, staff and DC influencers attended.”
Participants held more than 39 meetings with US Senators, Representatives and members of their staff to discuss important issues that affect small and medium sized businesses. Internet sales tax fairness was again a hot topic of discussion, with both the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) and the Remote Transactions Parity Act (RTPA) reintroduced in the current Congress. eBay has long been opposed to both of these legislative approaches because they each would impose unfairly burdensome sales tax collection and remittance requirements on eBay sellers. This year’s group of Advocacy Day sellers again reinforced with their members of Congress just how devastating the MFA and RTPA will be to US internet-enabled small businesses if passed in their current forms. Seller participants also discussed the benefit of working with countries that US sellers export to in an effort to bring their “De Minimis” thresholds (the value below which goods are exempt from taxes, duty and paperwork) in line with the US De Minimis threshold of $800.
“Members of Congress love to hear directly from their constituents about how policies being considered in Washington, D.C. would play out back home,” said Mike Dabbs, eBay Sr. Director of Government Relations for North America. “This year was no different and our sellers were highly effective in communicating the issues and needs faced by internet-enabled small businesses in the US.”
Showing just how important this event is to protecting eBay sellers from bad public policy, we were joined by several eBay executives including eBay’s SVP, General Counsel and Secretary, Marie Oh Huber, Head of North America, Hal Lawton, and VP, B2C, Marketplaces North America Bob Kupbens. All three eBay executives met with a variety of members of Congress to discuss Internet sales tax, cross-border trade and other important issues.
In addition to meetings with members of Congress, the event included a rare visit to the White House. The seller attendees had the opportunity to meet with senior administration officials to discuss legislation important to small businesses. The White House meeting was a rare opportunity to promote small business-friendly policy directly to the administration.
Our 12th annual Advocacy Day also featured several fun and informative events for the participants:
- eBay VP Bob Kupbens presented our annual Advocacy Leadership Award to Kathy Terrill. Kathy is not only an eBay sales coach and owner of a highly successful eBay store, she is also an eBay Small Business Ambassador who has attended multiple Advocacy Day events and is a passionate defender of small, internet-enabled businesses everywhere. Congratulations to Kathy on this well-deserved award!
- Attendees enjoyed a lunch with guest speaker Senator Todd Young (R-IN) who engaged the sellers in a discussion about small business policies related to taxation and regulation.
- As mentioned above, we ended this year’s Advocacy Day festivities with a new event – the eBay Celebrates Small Business Seller Showcase. All involved agreed it was a huge success.
eBay would like to thank the 22 eBay sellers who took time away from their homes and families to advocate for all internet-enabled small businesses and eBay entrepreneurs. We look forward to offering this opportunity to another group of fantastic sellers from around the country next year.