LETT Me Tell You About…ACMA’s National Catalog Forum

by Paula Jeske

American Catalog Mailers Association Logo

The 10th anniversary of the American Catalog Mailers Association forum (ACMA: www.catalogmailers.org) took place on May 2-4. Representing Lett Direct in Washington DC for the annual forum and celebration distinctly reminded me of the first time I was introduced to the co-founder & executive director, Hamilton Davison, approximately 10 years ago. At that point in time, I was still active in the DMA’s Catalog Council, and had a hard time imagining why we needed another association. Fast forward to May 2017 and my first ACMA forum: Now I understand. In a day and a half, I witnessed a highly engaged member base, interacting in open dialogs with top government insiders and USPS officials. We received honest answers to big questions. Washington insiders gave us the lowdown on what’s happened in the first 100+ days of a new administration that can affect our industry. We argued points of view. I left feeling informed, challenged, engaged and that, maybe, I could make a difference. So here, I want to share a quick synopsis of the two top topics from Paula’s POV.

  1. Postal Reform: Although there are still hoops to jump through and risks lurking, general sentiment is that this will pass through (as a limited reform bill instead of comprehensive reform) without any major shifts. Yes, to appease all sides, we will most likely see a slight increase in rates in 2018. However, if someone in Washington decides to rip it all up in order to privatize the Postal Service, this is a whole new issue. On a side note, the Postal Service is working to promote the value of mail to the consumer, as well as promotions spearheaded by ACMA’s work group to reward catalog mailer volume increases in 2018.
  1. Remote Sales & Use Tax: This is currently the more contentious of the two issues facing our industry. States are exerting their power to force remote businesses (catalogs, eCommerce) without nexus in their states to collect sales tax, taxes they want for their cash flow. With 12,000 tax districts in 46 states, there is no simple solution, and attempts at compliance by catalogers, small or large, could be devastating to their operational budgets. ACMA supports us by pushing back on these forced regulations, and helping us be involved in efforts in Congress to protect our rights. There are currently two ways to be heard:
    1. There is a bill seeking sponsorship called the “No Regulation Without Representation Act of 2017.” You can write your congressional representative. For materials, help & more details, visit catalogmailers.org or reach out to Paul Miller, ACMA’s Vice President and Deputy Director (pmiller@catalogmailers.org, 914-669-8391).
    2. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has been asked to look into the remote tax issue and it wants to talk to mailers. The GAO is a non-partisan watchdog arm of Congress on how tax dollars are spent. Sales & use tax on remote purchases from catalog & ecommerce raises the questions of HOW do catalogers collect today, WHAT kind of costs are incurred, and HOW might this change if ‘taxable regardless of nexus’ were employed? I have a contact name at the GAO; please email me at paula@lettdirect.com if you would like to speak with them.

I learned a lot last week. I encourage you to strongly consider joining the ACMA and support the work they do to protect our ability to continue a thriving catalog industry.