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Right now those rules only involve a disclaimer, but the FEC's poking into email between private entities trying to figure out if any rules are broken cannot end well.
Tax season is upon us, so it is natural and usually altogether proper to see a bunch stories bashing the IRS. But the notion that earnings from the sale of items on eBay are likely to be considered taxable income should not be among those story hooks.
There is little doubt that many eBayers derive a nice income supplement from their online activities. For some, earnings of thousands of dollars a year via the nation's online garage sale are not unheard of. Such retail activity has traditionally carried with it a fair bit of government scrutiny, regulation, and taxation — fees, permits, and such. Perhaps it should not, but it clearly has.
It is not much of a stretch to consider the proceeds from an ongoing auction presence on eBay to be income for tax purposes. The hard to figure angle for our armchair auctioneer is how to come up with anything like a market value for much of the stuff that is sold as "collectible." If you pay $5 for a plate and turn around sell it for $100, do you have a $95 profit that you should report, or does latter transaction prove that you merely exchanged value-for-value? The Sotheby's set has plenty of experience parsing such tax issues, the massive flea market nation of eBay not so much.
Quote of the Week
"We are not the speech police. The FEC does not tell private citizens what they can or cannot say, on the Internet, or elsewhere" - Federal Election Commissioner and amateur comedian Ellen Weintraub on new FEC regs.
Consumers Union has come out against the proposed mergers between long-distance and local telephone companies by arguing that prices might go up as a result. But it is not like the phone giants actually compete against each other now.