WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve Womack’s "Marketplace Fairness Act" won’t be on the table when Congress returns to a lame-duck session on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve Womack’s "Marketplace Fairness Act" won’t be on the table when Congress returns to a lame-duck session on Wednesday.


House Speaker John Boehner signaled this week that he does not want the bill to come to the floor this year. The legislation would require most Internet merchants to collect sales taxes on out-of-state purchases.


Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Boehner, told Roll Call newspaper on Monday that the speaker had made clear that he has "significant concerns" with the legislation and that he would not allow it to pass without first clearing the House Judiciary Committee.


Proponents had hoped that during the lame-duck session the Senate would merge the Marketplace Fairness Act with legislation to reauthorize a federal prohibition on taxing Internet access and email. The latter bill already cleared the House by voice vote and awaits action in the upper chamber.


Smith told Roll Call the House and Senate should instead "work together to extend the moratorium on internet taxation without further delay."


Womack, R-Rogers, remains hopeful that his legislation will get approved before the end of the year, according to his spokeswoman Claire Burghoff.


"Congressman Womack believes legislation must be enacted to close the online sales tax loophole as soon as possible," she said.


Womack, and other proponents, say the bill would remove an unfair advantage that online merchants have over brick-and-mortar retailers who are required to collect sales taxes. And, it would increase revenue to cities, counties and states from sales taxes on online purchases that are already owed but rarely paid.


Opponents argue the bill represents a tax increase and an onerous burden on small Internet merchants who would have to collect taxes for thousands of tax districts.


"Too many politicians in state capitols and Washington have looked at the Internet only as a way to raise taxes. They want to tax Internet access, they want to tax Internet sales. Boehner has drawn a line in the sand saying the American people come first and politicians need to keep their hands off the Internet," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.


The National League of Cities issued a statement Tuesday defending Womack’s bill, saying it does not represent a tax increase because the taxes are already owed. And, the group said it would help brick-and-mortar retailers compete with Internet merchants.


"Marketplace Fairness will support economic development and business on the Main Streets of towns across America by letting them compete fairly with online retailers who do not contribute to local economies. We encourage the House to pass remote sales tax legislation this year," said NLC Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony.


The Marketplace Fairness Coalition, whose members include the National Retail Federation, Wal-Mart Stores, Amazon and hundreds of other businesses and groups, is also urging Congress to act before year’s end. The coalition noted that Congress has held nearly 40 hearings dating back to 1994 on the issue — including three before the House Judiciary Committee in the last three years.


The coalition intends to launch targeted radio, print and digital ads in key areas across the country highlighting the need for action.


"We intend to hold accountable Members of Congress who side with the Washington interest groups funded by eBay versus these small business owners and workers who live in their districts," the coalition said.