Internet Sales Tax Bill Introduced Again

Last week, Massachusetts Rep. Bill Delahunt introduced a bill called the “Main Street Fairness Act,” which is a stupid name for a bill. The text of the bill hasn’t been released yet, but if passed, it would presumably set up a process where sales tax could be collected on purchases made over the Internet. As anyone who has shopped online over the past decade is probably aware, this has been an ongoing and thorny issue, since billions in online sales tax would provide a welcome revenue stream for struggling states.

If you’re against an Internet sales tax, you can take comfort that Delahunt has introduced this in the past (back in 2007) and that it’s been an ongoing fight without much forward momentum so far. If you’re for it, you can also take heart; as CNET notes, “With states scrambling for new sources of revenue during what may be a double-dip recession, pro-tax lobbyists are hoping that they’ll have better luck this year.”

“Democrats push for new Internet sales taxes” [CNET]

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  1. PunditGuy says:

    I’ve got no problem with paying sales tax on the Internet, but I want to pay the tax where the merchant is — not where I live. The state where I live did diddly squat to earn a thin dime on my purchases.

    • mikedt says:

      One could argue that the state paid for the roads that let that internet merchant deliver the goods to you. Of course every state in between could claim the same.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        Logically collected and paid for by shipping costs, via taxes paid by the courier service.

      • mac-phisto says:

        it’s called an IFTA tax & it already exists.

      • ktjamm says:

        This may be my ignorance – but isn’t that what the taxes we pay on fuel/tires/etc supposed to go to?

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      FTFA:

      There is one caveat under existing law: online purchases from sites like Amazon and eBay only seem to arrive tax-free. Legally, however, purchasers are required to pay their own state’s sales tax rate–the concept is called a “use tax”–and then voluntarily report the amount owed at tax time. But, state tax collectors say, few do.

      As I read it, online vendors would be required to collect state tax for the customer’s home state, kind of like when you buy a car in New York State, you pay your own county’s sales tax regardless of where in the state you bought your car. In fact, if you bought a used car from a private party, you’d pay sales tax at the DMV when you register it, but I digress. It’s a potential clusterfark, but some effort is being made to simplify sales tax laws among the various states and make them more uniform.

      From a practical standpoint, I see the IRS doing most of the heavy lifting as an intermediary. You file a form with the amount of business you did with the residents of each state, tote up the numbers, and remit to the IRS, which in turn sends each state a check once a year.

      • TouchMyMonkey says:

        And this is where it gets complicated. In New York, you pay state sales tax – 4%, and you pay county sales tax, which varies among New York’s 67 counties. What rate do you pay Amazon, 4%, or is Amazon also supposed to keep track of what the rate is in your county? Multiply that by 50.

        • Anne Boleyn says:

          I live in New York in a county where the tax is 4% in addition to the state’s 4% – total 8%. I pay 8% tax to Amazon (and it burns me up that I have to!). So it looks like Amazon collects the rate based on the billing address.

        • Chmeeee says:

          In Massachusetts, the state rate is 6.25%, while towns have the option of charging their own tax of 0.75% (making the total 7%). Multiply that by 351.

          • TouchMyMonkey says:

            Towns? You gotta be kidding. Surely a congressman from the fine state of Massachusetts realizes just how ridiculous this can get. I thought New York State was bad by letting counties set their own sales tax rates. This will be a mess.

        • physics2010 says:

          Well I’ve got a city tax too. Actually I don’t think we have a county sales tax in effect right now. So if we are going to make it fair on “Main Street” we’d have to include all of these right? The possibilities for Texas are:
          State – 6 1/4% (.0625)
          City – 1/4% (.0025) – 2% (.02), depending on local rate.
          County – 1/2% (.005) – 1.5% (.015), depending on local rate.
          Transit – 1/4 % (.0025) – 1% (.01), depending on local rate.
          Special Purpose Districts – 1/8% (.00125) – 2% (.02), depending on local rate.
          While zip codes get you in the ballpark, taxing zones are not setup by zipcode, so a simple lookup doesn’t always work.

          • TouchMyMonkey says:

            I forgot that New York City comprises 5 of New York’s 67 counties all by itself, and they like to put taxes on taxes down there.

        • QuantumRiff says:

          It really wouldn’t be hard to create a database, perhaps run by Treasury.gov, for instance, that gives the tax rate for each zip code in the nation (if any.. I miss Oregon). A list of all sales taxes and where they go for every zip code, that is updated regularly and the final deciding factor. (so vendors don’t get sued if there is an error in the database) Make it the responsibility of the tax districts to ensure their rates are correct.

          Not to mention, it would be a great tool for looking at new places to live, if you could see the TOTAL sales taxes and stuff in one location, which is probably why this Database isn’t in place already

          • azntg says:

            The ZIP code method can be problematic.

            In New York City, some communities in the eastern parts of the borough of Queens share the same ZIP code nominally assigned to communities in Nassau County (outside NYC limits).

            Of course, the City of New York would be peeved at losing the money to Nassau County. And a couple of years ago, city residents were unhappy about paying the higher sales tax (which is not the case anymore. NYC sales tax is now higher than Nassau County’s with the exception of clothing of under $110 value)

        • 44 in a Row says:

          To be honest, I can’t say I’ve ever had much sympathy for this argument. Yes, they do have to keep track of tax rates. Plenty of national brick-and-mortar retailers already do this; Banana Republic has hundreds of stores all over the world, and yes, they need to keep track of the local tax rates for every single one of them. And it’s been the case for a long time that sales tax has to be charged in any state where there’s a physical presence, right? So companies like Wal-Mart which have stores in all 50 states have had to do this all along. It seems like a mildly-annoying issue at best, and certainly not anything that couldn’t be easily managed with today’s technology.

    • physics2010 says:

      So you’d rather your tax dollars support someone in a different state? I’m sure the residents of WA (home of Amazon), support you.

      • PunditGuy says:

        Yes, I would. I understand the implications of what I’m saying. The state where the merchant does business did an order of magnitude more to facilitate the sale than my state did.

        Plus, now you’ll have a race to the bottom. All these Internet vendors will flock to states with the lowest sales taxes.

        I know that I’m supposed to let my state know about purchases I’ve made out-of-state, but that’s beyond ridiculous. My state did nothing; my state gets nothing.

        • pantheonoutcast says:

          “I know that I’m supposed to let my state know about purchases I’ve made out-of-state”

          Yeah, I don’t have that sort of loyalty to my state either. I doubt anyone does. Does anyone actually pay or know someone who pays use tax?

          • bikeoid says:

            One year I paid use tax and the idiots charged me a 10% penalty on top of it. No idea why- the amount was too small to bother with.

          • JuliB says:

            I’ve paid the use tax for years. While my actual “purchased” numbers may not have been 100% accurate, I felt it a small price to pay for a history of compliance.

          • H3ion says:

            Occasionally on major purchases from out of state our tax geniuses will come in and try to assess a use tax. We generally show them the receipts for the goods bought, and tax paid, out of state and they go away. When you’re talking about machines that cost 6 figures and up, they tend to care whether the tax is paid.

        • pjorg says:

          This makes sense to me. It will encourage states to be more business-friendly.

          The bottom line is that many states are not good places to operate a business, and they’ve chased away their tax base. Now they want to assess taxes on transactions taking place elsewhere? I don’t think so.

        • cromartie says:

          I’ll support you on this. If the vendor I choose to deal with is New Hampshire based, I should pay New Hampshire tax (which is none) because a New Hampshire based and administered vendor is selling me the good. If it’s a Washington vendor, then I should pay Washington taxes. The state in which I live (which is neither New Hampshire or Washington) did nothing to warrant taxing me for the purchase that isn’t covered through another form of taxation.

        • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

          This. The Law of Unintended Consequences will hurt bigtime. One only needs to look at the credit card companies for that.

    • PixDawg says:

      You will not get any support from folks in no sales tax states like Oregon where I live. I simply would not do business with the company if I was going to be taxed because they were in a tax state.

      In any case, the politicos do not care about what is fair, or what is good for business, or what is good for the economy. They care about more money to spend and how many votes they can buy by pretending to care. The ONLY solution is to ALWAY say NO to these jerks.

      • dush says:

        I would think the no sales tax states would love that. They’d be the only online stores that people weren’t charged tax for buying from. They would rule the Internets.

  2. Remmy75 says:

    As a resident of the Commonwealth of TAX-achusetts, it doesn’t suprise me that a government official from my state is proposing a new tax!

    • Benjamin Stearns says:

      Well, if you live in his district, help vote him out of office.

      • pjorg says:

        I’ve already written my Congressman. He’s unlikely to get my vote regardless…but he doesn’t know that.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        It’s Massachusetts. They kept a alcoholic, womanizing murderer as senator for almost half a century.

        • Emperor Norton I says:

          That’s still not as bad as the scum Illinois keeps electing!
          Governors, senators, house members, state reps, state senators, mayors, county board members, aldermen, judges.
          In Illinois, they’re all corrupt, incompetent or both!

          If Diogenes came to Illinois, he’d commit suicide!

        • veritybrown says:

          +10

      • Remmy75 says:

        He isn’t my congressman, so I can’t vote him out.

        Don’t get my started on politicians in my state.

        Having grown up near Chicago and lived under the leadership of Blago, nothing suprises me!

    • sirwired says:

      Errr… this isn’t a new tax. It’s a different way to collect an existing tax. (Collecting from the merchant instead of the consumer.)

  3. TailsToo says:

    While I wouldn’t like adding taxes in a fragile economy, it’s a fair way to keep the playing field equal. I know lots of people who buy high ticket items on the net to save on taxes, which hurts the local economy and tax revenue.

    • Shadowfire says:

      But which state gets the revenue? The state where the merchant resides, since that is the location of the business? The state of the buyer because it is the destination? One of the states in-between since the roads travel through it? There’s no fairness here.

      • Rachacha says:

        The state where the merchant is. If I go to a B&M store in another state, I pay taxes on the product in that state. My home state does not receive any income off the sale of the that product. Similarly, if I go to a B&M store in another state, my home state and any other states I am traveling on those roads and those states are not (in theory) receiving any tax income as I travel through that state.

        • Mr_Human says:

          No, if you’re ordering on the Internet, it’s the buyer’s state that’s getting the tax on the item. That’s why the tax will be your local rate, not the rate of the merchant’s location. When you’re traveling, yes, you’re obviously paying the tax of the locality.

        • Shadowfire says:

          But if I, living in Vermont, buy something in New Hampshire, I have to pay Vermont sales tax. So let’s try again. ;-)

    • ktetch says:

      “which hurts the local economy and tax revenue.”
      What CRAP.
      money doesn’t dissapear if you don’t use it. The economy works by cycles. If you have $100 and you spend $50 on say shoes, you’ve not harmed the economy by $50 because you’ve not spent hte full $100. You still have $50 that can still be spent, and when that’s spent, it goes back into an economic cycle.

      The whole ‘if you’re not spending it here, now, on this, the money’s lost and the economy is DOOMED is a fantasy. What slows down the ecconomy the most is… saving.

      The more, and the faster money moves around, the stronger the economy. Getting stuck in government budgets slows it down somewhat.

      • kujospam says:

        Thats why I always thought there should be a Not Spend tax, where if you save, or invest (in certain areas, like stocks which are worthless) a certain amount you get taxed extra, not less. Or at least at the same rate as normal levels. You made 20 million this year? Good now go spend it on whatever you want or get taxed for saving it.

    • evnmorlo says:

      The best way to “level the playing field” is to abolish sales tax.

    • dru_zod says:

      Well, I can safely say that I am not hurting the local economy where I live one iota by making online purchases. Why not? Because nothing that I buy online is even available locally. There are all these people in my county who say “buy locally and support local businesses.” Well, darn it, I would if the local businesses ever had anything I wanted to buy. I can’t find any of the stuff I want to buy (except of course food and basic necessities) without going on a three hour road trip, so I buy it online.

      • godlyfrog says:

        I’ve always thought that was a stupid argument anyway. The local businesses don’t buy their stuff locally. I’ll buy local bread because it’s cheaper and tastes better, but I’m not going to buy components from Best Buy unless they all come from the same source.

  4. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    You think that’s bad? I just got an email that said if I don;t forward it to 10 other people, the USPS is going to make us pay for “stamps” on our emails. Imagine, $0.02 to send an email! Of course, if the $1,000 I get from forwarding Bill Gates’ email comes through, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about email stamps for a long time.

    • KyleOrton says:

      What’s the point? According to a forward I received from my grandmother, our Islamic, Kenyan President is removing In God We Trust from all of the money. Who cares about paying for emails or paying taxes when buying online if the cash doesn’t even love Jesus?

    • Unclaoshi says:

      Im in the same boat! I cant wait to get my 9,367,596 USD that I won in the Canadian lottey! Im going be on easy street and can afford all the email stamps :D

  5. uptown says:

    Can we please get rid of the practice of naming bills? It seems like they’re named in a way so they’ll be good campaign-commercial fodder down the road. Take for instance the “SAFE Port Act”. No candiate wants to vote against it because their opposition could then say that they’re against securing our ports. Imagine the commercials. But this act also bundled in all sorts of regulations banning online gambling, so the published name isn’t accurate in its portrayal of what was being voted on. “Main Street Fairness Act”? Why not call it the “We’re f’ed because we don’t have nearly enough money to pay for all of the crap we usually waste your tax money on, so pony up the sales tax, so that we don’t need to make cuts …. and we love Main Street … Act”.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      How about operation names? Like the recent “Operation In Our Sites”.

    • Rachacha says:

      Mainstreet – Internet-Leveling the-Field Act – MILF Act :-)
      How many Congress Critters would vote for that act!

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      I’m looking forward to a future where all bills have names like “Mittens the Kitten Act 2030″ and “Rainbow and Unicorn Enhancement Bill” that correspond to increased torture in prison and the repeal of the 4th amendment, respectively.

      You’re not against kittens, rainbows, or unicorns, ARE YOU?!

  6. sirwired says:

    A few clarifications:

    1) It’s NOT an “internet” sales tax; it applies to all mail-order businesses.

    2) Every state with a sales tax has ALWAYS said that when you purchase goods from out of state, you owe “use” tax. It has always been this way; if you disagree with this, talk to your state legislature. The only thing this bill does is shift the burden of collecting the tax from you, consumer (with a piss-poor response rate), to the merchant.

    • vastrightwing says:

      You are 100% correct. Sure. Not only do I not report my purchases in other states, I actively go out of my way to order merchandise and have it shipped to my brother in (tax free) NH. I later drive over to his house, buy cheap gas and alcohol and pick up my tax free merchandise. I wouldn’t bother to do this, except my local tax rate is 6.25% (up from 5%) now and economically it’s a fiscally reasonable thing to do. Now if only states learned from my own behavior and knew how to be fiscally responsible and all of this non sense would go away.

      • Geekybiker says:

        Try living in Chicago with its 10+% sales tax. It’s almost like they are begging you to shop elsewhere!

  7. cmdr.sass says:

    You “forgot” the (D).

  8. chiieddy says:

    It’s ridiculous because… it’s very clear on the state income tax forms that you have to pay tax on purchases from out of state that were not taxed (i.e. NH). The form offers a safe harbor amount based on income. It takes less than a minute to figure out the safe harbor, add it into what you owe for income tax, and just go on your way. I usually make at least one large purchase online or in NH each year and generally come out ahead, but it’s better than figuring out every single online our out of state purchase for the year.

  9. radio1 says:

    Bill Delahunt is and always has been an idiot.

  10. Hoss says:

    I’ll bet the mortgage that politicians like Michael Rodriques will vote for the new tax. Rodriques voted for new liquor taxes last year and then was caught buying booze in new hampshire. They vote for taxes and then find a way to avoid them

    http://gawker.com/5351011/booze+taxing-mass-lawmaker-caught-at-new-hampshire-packy

  11. leprechaunshawn says:

    How about instead of looking for new ways to make money, they look for ways to cut spending? If I have a personal budget crisis I have to figure out where to cut back. I can’t go to my employer and say, “I’m going to start charging you an extra 4% to employ me”. I’d probably be out of a job. These politicians need to be re-taught that they work for us and we can/should put them out of a job if they cannot spend responsibly.

    • Mr. Pottersquash says:

      or, you can say “how can I get a second job” which is what gov did. Politicans work for us, sure. But when they cut thier budgets, we are the 1st to complain. They are damned if they do, damned if they dont

      • pjorg says:

        Please. Yes, the people that are immediately and directly affected by a cut complain; this is generally a small percentage, and they get over it. Nobody else really cares.

        What gets out of hand is when cuts are specifically engineered to enrage the largest number of people so that they will fold and just approve tax increases.

        • sirwired says:

          A “small proportion” of people complain under massive budget cuts? So, when road maintenance is cut only a “small proportion” of people claim about busted cars, nasty traffic, and unsafe bridges?

          Only a “small proportion” of people complain when they can’t get unemployment benefits?

          Only a “small proportion” of Medicaid recipients complain when dental care is cut entirely? Vision care? Mental health home care?

          What you MEANT to say was that only a small proportion of the total population complains, but each one of those benefits is extremely valuable to a significant number of people.

    • sirwired says:

      “Just cut” everybody likes the way that sounds… but it is nearly impossible to implement, and is a bad idea in the middle of a recession.

      What are the largest contributors to current state deficits? It’s easy! Tax revenue has dropped. A lot. Pow! Instant deficit. The need for govt. services has increased (unemployment insurance, Medicaid, food stamps, etc.) That compounds the deficit.

      So, with that in mind, what you like to cut? Medicaid is the largest, or nearly the largest, item in many states’ budget. And it already pays doctors poorly and disqualifies plenty of people that can neither afford insurance nor are they sick enough to be disabled (in which case they would receive medicare.)

      We could cut transportation spending! But our roads and bridges are already in sorry shape; deferring maintenance now starts to become a safety hazard and/or cost more later.

      We could stop unemployment payments. Yeah, too bad most of those people will just have to go on welfare to avoid starving; not much of a solution.

      We could “cut fraud.” But how do you do that without burdening the people with the least amount of time with crazy paperwork?

      The deficit, in a time of increased need, is a problem. But it isn’t one with easy, pat, answers.

      • dolemite says:

        Honestly, if we could just get medical costs under control, every citizen of the US, and every state/locality would be in a MUCH better position. When medical costs rise uncontrollably every year, they need more taxes.

      • leprechaunshawn says:

        In missing point I think you’ve helped make my point. You said “Tax revenue has dropped. A lot. Pow! Instant deficit”. If my personal revenue dropped I would have to find ways to decrease my spending in order to survive. Why can’t we hold government to the same standard? Yes, spending cuts are going to be inconvenient to the people they affect. Our elected officials need to have the backbones to make those tough decisions. Where I live, in Wisconsin, our elected officials need to be counted on to make decisions that help Wisconsin not only survive but thrive. If they cannot be counted on to make these difficult decisions, we need new elected officials.

        • sirwired says:

          Somebody with no assets who loses unemployment isn’t “inconvenienced” by budget cuts; it’s a catastrophe. Somebody stuck in a McJob who loses Medicaid for their kids isn’t “inconvenienced”; if one of those kids gets sick, it’s a disaster. Roads that aren’t maintained are an inconvenience; bad roads are unsafe and lead to real economic pain.

          Cutting government services when they are needed more than ever is kind of the opposite of why we have a safety net to begin with.

          • leprechaunshawn says:

            I’m not suggesting that government needs to cut all spending, they just need to trim the fat. Reasonable unemployment benefits, Medicaid/Medicaid and road maintenance are all examples of necessary spending. The spending that we could probably afford to cut would be:

            * Spending $31 million in Montana to upgrade two small border posts that average 22 cars per day

            * Spending $3.4 million in Florida to build a tunnel so that turtles and alligators can cross the road

            * Spending $850,000 in Connecticut so that Yale University can study how paying attention improves performance of difficult tasks

            * Spending $800,000 in Pennsylvania to upgrade a backup runway at an airport that serves an average 20 travelers per day

            * Spending $11 million in Washington to build a bridge connecting the two sides of Microsoft’s headquarters

            * Spending $1.15 million in Oklahoma to replace a guard rail around an empty lake

            That’s over $48 million worth of waste and I could probably find hundreds of millions more but I think these examples get my point across. If my income was reduced or lost I would continue to pay for food, clothing and shelter, you know – the essentials. I would sacrifice my DirecTV and high speed internet access along with my $5 a day Starbucks habit. Taxes would not need to be raised if government would spend responsibly.

            • thezone says:

              It’s easy to say that all of that money is wasteful. But you don’t have all the facts. I’ll give you just one example. The $850,000 dollars for Yale to “study how paying attention improves performance of difficult tasks” isn’t totally true. Actually, $396,000 is going to “analyze how “paying attention” improves performance of difficult tasks and develop models for understanding how neuronal mechanisms underlying attentional deployment are thought to be substantially impaired” Another $300,000 is going toward cancer research. Also, for the alligator crossing have you thought of how many cars may have been damaged or people killed due to hitting the animals at high speed? Additionally, the government is not like a normal family. Most families have a rainy day fund. Governments usually don’t have those. When they have a surplus the people expect their money back. During a recession/depression the government needs to increase spending to make up for the lack of spending of businesses and people. So while you think some spending is frivolous, unless you have the whole story, you really don’t know.

              • leprechaunshawn says:

                I’ll concede that the spending on research at Yale might not be as wasteful as the rest of my examples. However, the tunnel for turtles and alligators is still about as wasteful as can be. Here in WI we have lots of areas where deer cross the road. You know how we deal with it? We put up a sign that says deer crossing – next xx miles. Deer can also literally jump right out in front of a car. According to Wiki Answers alligators “run” about 7mph and turtles top out just over 1mph. That really isn’t fast enough to surprise anybody. Pay reasonable attention when you’re driving and this probably isn’t a concern.

                Besides, how do you teach them to go through the tunnel rather than over the road?

      • evnmorlo says:

        If you look at what your state spends money on and what you your local government spends state money on you will see 1/3-1/2 of pure waste. Politicians always say they need to cut beat cops and young teachers, but a huge amount of money is siphoned off to sinecures and vanity (and/or corruption) projects. And the first cut of all should be to reduce the budget of Congress itself by 75%.

        • sirwired says:

          “1/3 – 1/2″ of the budget of your average govt. is “pure waste”? I call B.S.

          I pulled the budget for a completely random state; it happened to be Kentucky. 37% education, 20% healthcare, 10% transportation, 7% pension costs. “other” was only 26%. “other” includes major line items like law enforcement, prisons, and all the other things state govt. does.

          So, where is your 1/3 – 1/2 of “pure waste”?

  12. jaymer says:

    “I can make a firm pledge,” he said in Dover, N.H., on Sept. 12. “Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”
    He repeatedly vowed “you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime.” -Our Dear Leader

    • Mr. Pottersquash says:

      ? and under his plan you aren’t. Now, this Delahunt, his plan wants to…actually its not raising any tax, its just making the interstate tax from passive to aggressive.

      If you were an honest person, who reported there internet purchases, this bill means nothing to you. So your calling Our Dear Leader a liar cause your being forced to tell the truth.

    • ARP says:

      I didn’t see President Obama listed as a co-sponsor of this bill. Can you provide a cite to where he’s listed as a co-sponsor? Can you provide me with the constitutional/procedural rule for a President to sponsor and vote on a bill in Congress (i.e. pre-presentment)?

      Are you suggesting that Obama should be given the power to control state and local tax rates? That would seem strange since you seem to have Teabagging tendencies.

  13. Benjamin Stearns says:

    In case anyone is wondering, Bill Delahunt is a Democrat. How’s that hope and change working out for you? Now, they want to tax internet sales. No one and nothing is safe from these shysters. Why don’t thy cut the budget before taxing the people who are helping to keep the economy (what’s left of it) working?

    • Mr. Pottersquash says:

      Internet sales are already taxed, you just apparently do not pay them because you are dishonest on your tax returns. An as a small buisness owner that pays property taxes and has goods on hand for consumers to actually evaluate before buying, I like hope and change that stops letting constumers come in on my dime, find out what they want, then go home and buy it from a warehouse in whoknowswhere that doesn’t have to worry about insurance in case of a customer falling or employ as many workers because they do not need to actually speak with there customers.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        So, this bill is good for you because you don’t like large chain stores?

        As a consumer, I make my purchases from the vendor who offers me the lowest price. My local camera store, while filled with knowledgeable, helpful staff, was charging almost $80 more than Amazon for a camera I was interested in. So, I go in, talk to them, evaluate the merchandise, and then offer a deal. If they could have come within $30 of Amazon’s price, cash on the spot, then they’d have made a sale. But they didn’t. So, too bad.

        If you can’t compete, then maybe you should either think about another line of work or you should come up with new marketing strategies. And this is coming from a guy who hates big box stores with every molecule of his being.

    • ktetch says:

      AHHH so, members of one party always have the exact same stance and ideas about everything. Kinda makes you wonder why we bother with politicians then, let’s just have the party chairmen rule the country (and it REALLY makes me wonder why so much funding is provided for ‘Primaries’

  14. esc27 says:

    I think I could support an internet sales tax IF the money was spent to support the internet and businesses online. After all some physical sales tax goes to public goods that make physical businesses possible (city streets, police, fire, etc.) Put some sales tax toward fiber, free wifi, public/civic websites, etc. and we have a deal.

    • PixDawg says:

      The problem with that is even if you can trust the politician in office this year, you cannot know what the one next year will do. Congress has for many years been taking funds from programs such as you suggest that were supposedly locked down for other purposes. They are simply greedy and dishonest and think they are entitled to do what they please. They need to be stopped and the only way to do that is to toss them out.

  15. ap0 says:

    The one reason I don’t buy from Amazon as much as I could is because they charge tax for WA residents. I often order from other vendors because with sales tax, Amazon is more expensive. If I have to pay sales tax to every online merchant, I’ll probably just order everything from Amazon, since they’d probably be about the cheapest (obviously not for everything, but for most everyday things you’d order online).

    The whole use tax notion boggles my mind. If I order a $2000 TV from a business in another state, I don’t think paying WA’s 10% (yup) sales tax on top of that for no other reason than to tax me is cool. I could deal with paying the sales tax in the state of the merchant of the thing I’m buying, but I’m definitely not cool with paying my own state’s sales tax for a transaction that didn’t occur in this state other than me typing in my credit card info and shipping address.

  16. morehalcyondays says:

    Democrats and taxes…they just can’t help themselves. I guess we’ll be whizzing a few thousand more jobs down the drain if this passes.

    • ARP says:

      I guess paying for tax cuts with deficits, or starving local goverments so that they cut services, raise local taxes, and implement fees (license plate fees, application fees, driver’s licenses, etc.) is much different? You just play a shell game, at least we’re up front about it.

      • evnmorlo says:

        The Democrats are upfront about being tax-lovers, but they love them so much they will also slip in the property tax and fee increases too.

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      Please Google “Iraq War off the books funding”, “unfunded Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage” and “unfunded Bush Tax cuts”, and get back to us after you’ve spun up, will you?

  17. PixDawg says:

    I live in Oregon. WE have been smart enough to say NO (MANY, MANY times) to a sales tax. We have not seen one seriously suggested for years now as a result. Even politicians get the message if the voters smack them in the head enough times.

    I would suggest that measure.

  18. mac-phisto says:

    i frequently “evade” state tax by purchasing things online. but i also purchase a hell of a lot in this state.

    in my state (which spends money like rock stars on a coke binge), i don’t think the answer is to tax out-of-state purchases. i think the answer is to eliminate the state sales tax & replace it with tolls. then you’re guaranteed to reap benefit from anything that crosses the border.

  19. smo0 says:

    I’m a firm believer… in regards to the internet – like everything else, they should have thought of this before hand… none of this “oh shit we could have made bank from this?!?! WHY DIDN’T ANYONE SAY SO?!” people were talking about this crap in the 90s… no one paid attention…
    I was at one of the first ASCAP conferences for music pirating in 1999…. and all I could think to myself was… “should have been on the ball people.”

    They aren’t racking in the big bucks because they didn’t think of it first and now we all have to “pay our share.”

    They might has well send us the bill for all of the things we bought in the past and back owe us.

    Jackasses.

  20. vastrightwing says:

    Struggling states, try this: instead of forcing your denizens to pay more to live in your state and risk a population flight problem, you can look at the problem the other way. Yes, try spending less. This works. I know, I do it. I can’t seem to earn more money right now, for some unexplained reason, so I’ve cut my spending back. Guess what? It really works.

    • PunditGuy says:

      The government is not you. It’s not even a collection of yous, because government has roles and functions that individuals do not.

      When times are tough for you, you cut back spending. Smart. When times are tough on a bunch of yous, the government has to increase spending to keep up with the new demand for its services. Government spending is stimulative, and can help lessen the effects of recessions until the private sector can start picking up some of the slack.

      Governments need to cut when times are good, not when times are bad. And what did you want cut, exactly? I say we slash the defense budget and have that money go directly to help states meet their Medicaid burdens.

      • veritybrown says:

        I guarantee you that in every state, huge sums of money are being used to reward the “friends” of the people who are in power, often in the form of sinecure positions with grossly inflated salaries or overpriced contracts for services, while truly necessary services are cut to “punish” the people who voted against giving them more and more and more money to waste.

        I’ve even seen this sort of thing happen at the university where I attended grad school. When the state refused to give the university more money, the university punished the students by not replacing paper towels in the bathrooms. The idea, of course, was for students to complain, and they and their parents to vote for the state to give more money to the university. Curiously enough, during the course of that same semester, I saw the handrail on the university library’s long rampway painted three times.

        The word “honest” and the word “politician” don’t even belong in the same dictionary.

  21. kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

    Hoping this doesn’t pass, mostly because of the headaches it could cause me. I run a very small business ( http://www.hyraxpublications.com/store/ ) through which I sell my own eBooks and Audio Books. My state specifically excludes digitally delivered content from sales tax, so I don’t even gather this information from customers, reducing the amount of information they need to give me.

    If I have to coordinate with the tax authorities in all 50 states, it probably makes more sense to just pull the plug. It simply wouldn’t be worth the effort.

    • physics2010 says:

      There is an exclusion in it for small businesses for whom that overhead would be overwhelming.

  22. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    They just need to enforce the laws on the books. AFAIK, every state that has a sales tax has a Use Tax or something similar that you pay on items purchased out of state that you did not pay sales tax on.

    For example, our company was audited a few years back. We purchased a Gateway computer by phone (a pentium 133) that we did not pay sales tax on. They discovered this during the audit and made us pay MD sales tax on it.

    The problem is that States want the easy way out instead of enforcing the laws on the books on the end users.

  23. FrugalFreak says:

    A nonsense law because Main Street fails to compete.

  24. Mr Fife says:

    Why not have a law to reduce the salaries of elected officials by 50%, our foreign aid by 50%, and pass a law that requires a balanced budget. Also, no elected officials or government workers get raises while the government is suffering a loss. We can require the government at all levels to use the same accounting practices as business.

    • thezone says:

      Federally, balanced budgets are dumb. First, during a recession if the federal government does not increase spending to make up for the private sector shortages you get a depression. Think Herbert Hoover. The reps in congress make $174,000 a year. While that is a good salary, halving it wouldn’t really do much. Especially when you consider that many of them have to maintain two homes. Also, lowering foreign aid would amount to a decrease of about .5% of our overall budget. Sure spending needs to decrease but there are better ways to do it.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Congressional salaries are irrelevant. Foreign aid is irrelevant. That’s kind of like saying you’ve lost your job, so you’re going to economize by buying the generic rather than brand name toothpaste, and that’ll solve the problem. Want to balance the federal budget without tax increases? Cut defense, Social Security, or Medicare/Medicaid. Combined, those are >60% of total spending.

      Want to cut state spending? Education’s about 38%, Medicaid’s 13%, Transport’s 7%. After that, you’re looking at law enforcement, pensions, prisons, etc.

  25. Kep! says:

    Can someone point me to the amount in $$$ that online buying is removing from the tax base? How much has gone missing? Does it affect one region of the US more than others? With the state of Indiana (and i think California) now funding education through sales tax, this becomes an issue now more than ever…for both sides. What are the actual numbers?

  26. iancoleTX says:

    This is what I emailed him:
    “Rep. Delahunt-

    Taxation of sales on the Internet is a horrible idea. Please explain why I should pay more than the 50% of my income I already do, when I receive virtually no benefit as a result already? I have “national security” that consists of two pointless wars to fund defense spending, and an insecure border that allows illegal immigrants to flood in, wreck the job market and undermine public safety on the roads. I have “police protection” that mainly consists of getting fleeced on the roadway in the name of “revenue enhancement”. I get to pay exorbitant property tax on land that I “own”. I have a stagnant government that makes literally every possible concession in the name of corporate profit, not public benefit. I get to pay living wages to the other half of the citizenry that does not work or pay taxes. I get to watch my government refuse to show any fiscal restraint, and continually spend itself into the ground.

    Why, pray tell, do you need even more of the money that I earn as a product of the labor produced in the limited amount of time I have on this earth? Please write me just a few words off the top of your head and explain to me what right you have to reach further into my pockets. A canned response gets a vote against in the next election and negative PR to anyone who will listen.

    Thanks,
    Ian”

    • evnmorlo says:

      As a Democrat I’m sure he feels justified in taxing you any amount; but you should have asked why he is so zealous about a regressive tax.

  27. teqjack says:

    The big problem with requiring vendors to collect and forward the tax[es] is that there are literally thousands of taxing authorities, taxes change several times a week, so doing it would cost many small companies more than their entire business is worth.

    Thus, there is supposedly a pre-requisite to this bill going into effect – that all taxes be simplified, and as much as possible be the same. Neither of which will actually happen, despite a number of States having signed a “feel-good” but toothless agreement to this effect.

  28. _UsUrPeR_ says:

    So would I be paying my taxes in my state, or another state then? Michigan’s state tax of 6% is above the median.

  29. RogueWarrior65 says:

    Figures. They already effed up the economy. Might as well grind it into the ground permanently.

    • PunditGuy says:

      I’m assuming by “they” you mean the gamblers on Wall Street who wrote checks their assets couldn’t cash.

  30. DarkPsion says:

    What if I am visiting relative in another state and order something online? Which sales tax applies, my home state or my current state?

    What about people living on the border of two states? If they cross the border to order from that state, which sales tax applies?

    For all “non-internet” purchases, the visiting state tax applies.

    What if I place an order while on a jet? That’s federal air space isn’t it?

    What about business purchases where the business has a presence in more than one state? Does the location of the order or the location of the main office apply? Or the location of the laptop that places the order when the order is made?