As a retailer, importer and employer of approximately 347,000 team members, we play a constructive role in informing policymakers about many legislative issues. We advocate at all levels of government, with trade associations and policy-based organizations, to ensure that the impact legislative and regulatory issues have on our business, industry, communities and team members is understood.
When directly advocating on positions important to our business, we rely on leaders throughout the company who have expertise to lend to policy discussions. We also provide opportunities for our team members to learn about issues affecting Target and how to communicate with their elected representatives through in-person programs and by publishing informative material.
Recently, we’ve shared expertise and engaged in lobbying activities on a number of issues important to our company and the retail industry. Although the specific issues vary with legislative activity and schedules, they include taxes, trade, product safety, sustainability, data security, health care, and employment and labor issues.
In 2015, our direct advocacy focused on E-Fairness and promoting payment security. We view these issues as our top priorities because of their effect on the retail industry and, more specifically, the direct and significant impact to our business. We also identified these issues as top priorities when working with trade associations and retail peer companies.
E-Fairness Online Sales Taxes
As a result of a decades old tax loophole, many online-only retailers receive as much as a 10 percent perceived price advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers because they are not required to collect and remit state sales taxes, even though the tax is due by the consumer. This creates a competitive disadvantage for companies like Target that are required to collect state and local sales tax for both in-store and online purchases. In 2015, Target advocated that Congress pass legislation giving states the authority to require online-only retailers to collect and remit sales taxes – often referred to as E-Fairness legislation. The current system is based on the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court Quill decision which does not reflect the modern retail landscape.
The legislation we supported passed the Senate in 2014 but the House of Representatives continues to debate and consider options to resolve the issue. Some states continue to explore E-Fairness legislation while others have reached agreements with online-only retailers to collect sales tax. In addition to retailers’ legislative advocacy, some states are pursuing litigation to prompt potential Supreme Court action as one way to acknowledge the significant changes in the ways retailers and consumers engage today. Target will continue to support state and federal efforts to level the playing field for retailers and achieve price parity at the point of sale.
Since our experience with a data breach in 2013, Target has been working with Congress and other stakeholders to protect and strengthen the payment ecosystem. Target supports a federal data breach notification and security standard for businesses and consumers. One federal standard would help simplify the process for consumers and eliminate confusion due to different state standards.
In 2015, legislation was passed out of committees in the House and Senate but has not yet been voted on by Congress. While Congress continues to debate this issue, Target has taken action by deploying updated security technology for our guests. In 2015, we implemented chip and PIN technology at all point of sale terminals in our stores. In addition, Target proactively reissued all Target REDCards with chip and PIN technology. Target will continue to advocate for federal legislation that strengthens protections for consumers.
Target publicly reports its advocacy activities every three months as required by law with the Secretary of the U.S. Senate and the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. Our recent reports are available below:
We also indirectly engage in advocacy through our memberships in trade associations and other policy-based organizations, which support their member companies by offering educational forums, public policy advocacy and advancement of issues of common concern. Given the diversity of interests, viewpoints and broad membership represented by these organizations, the positions they take do not always reflect Target’s views.
Our financial support of trade associations and other policy-based organizations is limited to educational, lobbying and association management activities. We expressly require that our financial contributions to these organizations not be used for making campaign contributions to candidates or to influence the outcome of specific elections or ballot initiatives.
We report the identity of the trade associations and other policy-based organizations that we support, together with the aggregate amount of our financial support. In addition, because membership dues used for lobbying activities are not deductible for U.S. tax purposes, we also show the portion of our total dues that are not tax deductible.
Information on our support of trade associations and other policy-based organizations is updated twice per year (January and July) and is available below: