Merchant acquirers would have to report their retailers' credit and debit card transactions to the Internal Revenue Service as part of a provision of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The Senate on Saturday passed the bill, which the House passed last week. The bill awaits President Bush's signature to become law. "Acquirers will need to give the IRS a complete record of retailers' credit card and debit card activity so the IRS can learn more about unreported sales," says Paul Martaus, president of Mountain Home, Ark.-based consulting firm Martaus & Associates. Acquirers and the independent sales organizations with which they work would need to collect and securely store merchants' information, adds Martaus. Under the provision, a merchant acquirer annually would have to submit the name, address, taxpayer identification number, and the gross amount of credit and debit card transactions for each of its merchant customers. The reporting would begin after Dec. 31, 2010, according to the legislation. The provision could create "serious problems" for the acquiring industry, says Carla Balakgie, CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Electronic Transactions Association.

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