Economics

The Internet Tax Man Cometh Again

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Like most good Americans, you probably do not calculate and pay every April the taxes you owe on your Amazon purchases for the past year. Almost no one does, which upsets state officials who see online sales as a potential source of tax revenue.

House Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Steve Womack (R-Ark.) hope to authorize states to collect taxes from online sales with the Marketplace Equity Act, Congress's latest attempt to compel Internet retailers to collect taxes in states where they have no physical presence. State budget shortfalls have fueled the Internet tax craze—in July, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced a similar act with a similar name, the Main Street Fairness Act.

Either law would contradict Supreme Court precedent that mail-order catalogs and other remote businesses only have to collect taxes in states where they have a physical "nexus"—a warehouse or an office, for instance. And it's not clear why a company in Oregon, say, should be burdened with the costly proposition of collecting taxes for every other state and sorting through 49 other tax codes.

States have been trying to find a way to tax online retailers for years, but an "Amazon tax" could backfire. States have argued that "affiliates," or partner vendors, merit a taxable connection to a given state. Amazon and Overstock have cut ties with affiliates in various states that threatened to use the affiliate connection to make retailers collect taxes.

The Marketplace Equity Act gives states the flexibility to create their own collection systems, which pleased Betty Yee, a member of California's Board of Equalization interviewed by Politico. This is the same Betty Yee who told The New York Times back in March that the only way for states to close their enormous budget gaps was to collect taxes from online sales, an asinine statement considering such tax collection would account for "less than three-tenths of one percent of state and local tax revenues."

Veronique de Rugy recently outlined the ins, outs, and what-have-yous of internet taxation for Reason. She and her Mercatus Center colleague Adam Thierer propose a much better solution than any Congress members have so far: an "origin based" collection scheme.

NEXT: ReasonTV: Filmmaker Jason Silva on How Drugs Helped Invent the Internet, The Singularity and "Turning Into Gods"

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  1. Of course, if consumers pay any attention to this, they’ll quickly realize it’s the Fuck the Consumer During Economic Downtimes Act.

    1. Seriously, where do these assholes get off proposing shit like this at a time like this? Come back to the light of reality…

      1. Maybe they want to see what happens when people really take to the streets? Our tolerance is not infinite, after all.

        1. Wanna bet?

          You won’t see people taking to the streets in this country over taxes. That’s what our wild and free ancestors would have done because taxes are the equivalent to a cage. Wild and free animals don’t like cages.

          We’re just their domesticated descendants. Domesticated animals depend on their masters and call their cages home.

          The only way we’ll take to the streets is when the handouts stop.

          1. I don’t think we’re quite dead yet. It doesn’t have to be a majority to be a mess.

            1. You have more hope than I.

              1. It has to hurt financially or in some freedom people practice daily. The temperature in the pot has kept increasing, and now we’re starting to feel it. Not in any abstract, slippery-slope manner, but real economic pain and the beginnings of the realization that our government has become tyrannical and unaccountable for its actions.

                1. Entitlements are what is killing the country more than anything else.
                  It kills the spirit by turning people into domesticated animals, it kills the economy by destroying wealth and encouraging sloth, and it divides society by pitting producers against the moochers.

                  The moochers have the most to lose. They’ll fight to keep their handouts because they will die, literally die, without them.

                  When the shit hits the fan it will be the socialists, not the liberty minded, who will win. They’ve got the numbers and they’ve got the most to lose.

                  1. Sure. It was this sort of thing that helped turn the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.

                    Just remember, though, that we do have some tradition of distrusting the government. I think that undercurrent is still there in a large percentage of the population.

                    1. The American Republic has already turned into the American Empire.

                    2. I don’t agree, but I do think we’re in a proto-empire stage. Very similar in many respects to the middle Roman Republic. Countries look to us to solve military problems increasingly–the question is, where does that end? If we retain a huge military advantage and have an economic collapse, is it historically obvious what the next step will be? Maybe so.

                    3. That’s my concern – if a country hits the skids economically while still possessing a mammoth military, it’s hardly a given that the response will be to shrug, say “oh well we had a good run”, and beat all the now-unaffordable swords into ploughshares…

                  2. Entitlements are what is killing the country more than anything else. It kills the spirit by turning people into domesticated animals, it kills the economy by destroying wealth and encouraging sloth, and it divides society by pitting producers against the moochers.

                    I hope you don’t mind if I repost this in a few places.

                    1. Don’t mind a bit.

                    2. sarc, I am compelled to address this cynicism with some historical perspective. Yes, we have a crap load of sloths, parasites, ne’er-do-well, and no-goodniks (I love that word) BUT the revolution was instigated by a mere 2% or society at the time a full 80% of the colonists were loyalists. I don’t think “the king” has such favorable numbers this time around. NO it won’t happen overnight and it likely will get much worse before better but with all that being said we are living in the greatest era of recorded history. We have more freedom and free minded people as well as wealth, communication ability, and creativity than ever before. If you ask me “the king” is actually shitting his purple pants right now.

                    3. See also: rapscallion, scalawag, and varlet.

                    4. Don’t forget “knave”, CB. I’m trying to bring that one back into fashion.

                    5. I wish I shared your confidence, but I see something in our future more akin to what happened in Russia a century or so ago.
                      We’ve got an entitlement class and growing resentment over “teh evil rich”.

                      This “Occupy Wall Street” is just a beginning. A taste of what’s to come. Next will be riots and looting, a national emergency, a Constitutional Convention, and before you know it everyone will be granted a “living wage”, a “right to health care”, and all sorts of other bullshit.

                      It’s gonna get worse before it gets really fucking bad.

                    6. I think I could single-handedly crush the entire Occupy movement. It’s that weak.

                    7. a “right to health care”

                      sarc, that one is already de facto done. The lease with an option to buy is already been signed; now it’s merely forcing price negotiations and state implementation to collectively pony up, speaking of unjust taxation and “user fees” not withstanding.

                      Whichever Obamney is in office will decisively insure this.

                    8. “”It’s gonna get worse before it gets really fucking bad.””

                      I doubt it. “Occupy” is a fad. My bet is that “Occupy Wall Street” will come to a close when old man winter kicks in. Perhaps it march to Florida for the winter.

                    9. “right to health care”

                      I recently saw some lefty and/or Occupy Wall Street type say that education is (also) a human right.

                  3. Entitlements are what is killing the country more than anything else.
                    It kills the spirit by turning people into domesticated animals, it kills the economy by destroying wealth and encouraging sloth, and it divides society by pitting producers against the moochers.

                    Hence my handle. Entitlements, and senses of entitlement — killing America dead.

                    This is the same Betty Yee who told The New York Times back in March that the only way for states to close their enormous budget gaps was to collect taxes from online sales…

                    That’s the sort of statement that not even the most bumbling of apparatchiks would dare make publicly if America (and Yee’s home state of California in particular) weren’t so paralyzed by state-sponsored helplessness and entitlement that there are few left who are any tougher than a rotten peach.

                    It’s not just mere stupidity; it takes decades of conditioning to use the kind of math, by default, that says, “if we can’t meet our budget, what we need is to extort more money, not cut the budget.”

                    1. “”It’s not just mere stupidity; it takes decades of conditioning to use the kind of math, by default, that says, “if we can’t meet our budget, what we need is to extort more money, not cut the budget.”””

                      Decades of conditioning or elected to public office.

                  4. Fortunately we’ve got the guns.

          2. This sounds vaguely like the White Idiots premise….and I’ve never seen you guys together….hmm.

          3. Only 33% of the colonists rebelled. Another 33% were loyalists and the rest sat it out.

            Give me 20 fully-dedicated people and we could have one hell of a ‘protest’ movement.

      2. As unreasonable as taxes can be, the current situation where people skip paying them is inequitable to local retailers (or should they compete by ignoring local law?).

        Eliminating sales taxes or implementing a tax that is applied to applicable purchases are both reasonable. The current circumstance is not.

    2. Due to the economic downturn, to get out of the recession states and the federal government will need to increase taxes to get their revenue up. It is obvious that they need more revenue in order for the rescesion to end.

      1. Yeah. Obvious. ?

      2. It is obvious that they need more revenue in order for the rescesion to end I know nothing about economics or basic math.

        FIFY

      3. This is sarcasm, right?

        1. Lord, I hope so. Otherwise, the solution to all of our economic problems is a doubling of the tax rate.

          1. Give me four more years, and I’ll TRIPLE the tax rate.

    3. The FCDED Act? You’re going to get nowhere with that.

         Fuck OveR THE Consumer wHILe DestRoying the EcoNomy

      Better.

  2. They sure want my money. At some point you would think it would just be easier to spend less.

    1. Never, dude. Spend less? Why, when they can steal more from us?

    2. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    3. No politicians can’t spend less because all they care about is their power. They get their power by buying votes. Why would they want to do less of that?

  3. States will keep making employment deals in lieu of Amazon taxation

  4. Dickless Durbin and doofuses like those two reps are why stockades were invented in the first place. But the question remains, can they be shamed?

    1. The lesson from History is ….. NOPE.

    2. Could Ted Bundy have been made to feel genuine remorse for his victims?

  5. Doesn’t this amount to tariffs between states?

    Sure it’s not explicitly a tariff, but in effect it’s the same thing: In order for goods to cross state borders a tax must be paid.

    1. No. The tax is not incurred upon crossing the state border. The tax is incurred upon the sale at retail within that state.

      This is an extension of the retail sales and use tax that most states have had for decades. The SCOTUS has repeatedly ruled that a state cannot impose the tax on a sale that does not have sufficient contacts with the state, under principles of constitutional due process and the negative implications of the commerce clause.

      The transaction must have a sufficient “nexus” with the state to justify the state’s attempt to impose a tax upon it. Typically, the internet retailer might have a bricks-and-mortar store in the state (think Barnes & Noble), and there’s your nexus.

      But there have been egghead law professors and money-grubbing state legislators and regulators, who are ever seeking more ways to fuck the taxpayer and generate more much-needed “revenue”, and who have been pushing the boundaries of those decisions and have been proposing a concept of “economic nexus” that basically says you’re making money off of people within the state who are buying your stuff and using it in the state, so you have to collect the state sales tax.

      It basically is an attempt to capture all the lost use tax that people should have been paying all along, but haven’t.

      1. I’m supposed to pay a “use tax” on goods I purchase in the sales tax free neighboring state.

        As far as I’m concerned it’s a tariff since I’m being charged to bring goods into the state.

        Yes I understand that because I will use it in this state that they use that to justify charging sales tax in the form of a use tax since no tax was collected at the time of sale.
        But that’s just a bunch of nuanced lawyerspeak that people with common sense call “bullshit, that’s a tariff”.

        1. And as a tariff if falls afoul of the Commerce Clause as it was meant to apply.

  6. Here’s the thing that confuses me:

    It’s my understanding that in most places the use tax and the “sales” tax are actually the same tax – and that it’s the purchaser who actually owes the tax.

    In other words, we think of sales tax as being a tax on the retailer that he passes through to us – but under the law it’s really a tax that we owe that the retailer collects on behalf of the state.

    And I have to say, if that’s the case – fuck off, states. If you’re having problems with tax collection, maybe that’s because your cunning plan to force retailers to be your tax collection deputies has run its course. Quit bitching and come up with a new idea.

    It’s like the states are saying, “Well, we managed to extort retailers into being involuntary deputies of the state, back when most commerce happened in a particular way – and it’s NAH FAIR that commerce is changing in a way that makes that less convenient!”

    Like it’s society’s job to order itself forever in a way that’s convenient to a temporary and contingent plan the states had to collect a certain type of tax.

    Fuckers.

    1. Reply to you @ 1:31

    2. That’s a good point. So far they’ve figured out how to capture the non-retailer collected sales tax on stuff that you have to register with the state, like your car. What if the retailers didn’t collect the sales tax at all, and we all had to file yearly or quarterly sales tax returns? The pain factor for both individuals and the state trying to enforce it would be immense.

    3. The sales and use tax actually are not the same tax. They typically are imposed at the same rate and generally via the same mechanism, but the use tax “complements” the sales tax. I.e., “sales at retail” are subject to the sales tax, with certain exceptions – the tax is incident upon the occurrence of a “sale at retail” within the taxing jurisdiction; whereas the use tax is incident upon the use or storage for use of goods within the taxing jurisdiction, where those goods were not already taxed under the sales tax.

      And yes, the retailer typically must register with the taxing authority as a “dealer” and collect and remit the sales tax. But yes, the tax is owed by the purchaser.

      Typically, the law forbids the retailer from claiming that the tax is included in the price of the goods, or that the retailer is paying the tax for you, and instead the tax must be separately stated on the receipt so you know exactly what you’re paying for the goods and what you’re paying in tax.

      The USER of goods must submit the use tax. You do report your use tax on your state forms for those appliances and furniture you bought out of state, don’t you? hehehe…

      See above for a little discussion of the issue – it’s not simply one of collecting the existing tax – it’s a matter of expanding its applicability to capture more transactions that SCOTUS precedent indicates are beyond the reach of the states under the Constitution.

    4. And I have to say, if that’s the case – fuck off, states. If you’re having problems with tax collection, maybe that’s because your cunning plan to force retailers to be your tax collection deputies has run its course. Quit bitching and come up with a new idea.

      I’ve got an idea: ban importation of goods into that state that do not provide evidence of the sales tax being paid.

      Guess who’s going to “bitch” now.

      And don’t bring up any constitutional objections because it’s perfectly constitutional for states to ask Congress for permission to require sales tax from out-of-state merchants.

      1. I’ve got an idea: let’s do some really dumb, impractical shit.

        AND YOU CAN’T OBJECT!!! The government already does lots of dumb, impractical shit, so there’s precedent! Facial libertards!

        1. there’s precedent

          there’s precedent to tar and feathering people like Tulpa. and that shit pre-dates any constitution.

      2. I’ve got an idea: ban importation of goods into that state that do not provide evidence of the sales tax being paid.

        Sweet, now we can have customs between every state. That’ll solve the problem. That package you expected in 2-3 days. Well, we meant 2-3 weeks…if customs clears it.

        Oh, and ebay? Yeah, fuck off on your business model. No one should be able to exchange goods without state approval.

        1. I never said it was a good idea, just one that states have the ability to implement. Fluffy’s argument is essentially saying that might makes right, that because the merchants are out of state the states have no ability to force collection.

          1. Your scenario requires a form of trade war between the states, which for all practical purposes is a non-starter. Disputes between states would have to be settled in the federal government (via the much abused commerce clause) and hence the legislation at hand.

        2. By think of the jerbs that would be created in interstate customs!

  7. Am I the only one a little creeped out that California has a gov’t entity called the “Board of Equalization”?

    I mean holy shit, talk about Orwellian. That is straight out of a dystopian novel.

    1. Yes, creepy. The City of Portland (OR) just established an “Office of Equity.”

      1. Yeah, but that place (Portland) is fucking Moscow-on-the-Willamette. I lived there for almost fifteen years, and NO, that “Office of Equity” shit doesn’t surprise me one bit.

    2. Makes me think of

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_Bergeron

      Given enough time, the Handicapper General will be a cabinet position.

    3. Handicapper General, here we come!

      1. Damn you ?, beat me by 1 minute!

        1. Don’t worry. We’ll fix ? so he never beats you again.

    4. While the hierarchical state does a horrible job of “equalizing,” humans evolved to be egalitarian.

      Egalitarianism is an essential part of human nature; it is the very thing that led to our humanity, and remains an undeniable yearning in the human spirit that continues to shape our political fortunes. http://rewild.info/anthropik/2…..sary-evil/

      1. Egalitarianism = utopian horseshit.

    5. Speaking of Orwell (peace be upon him), are any of you aware that our Nobel Peace Prize winning President has just deployed troops to Uganda?
      The information is in the Friday afternoon news dump.

  8. Fluffy, cities, counties and states are having problems coming with cash to fund their bloated ass budgets, and with more and more retailers opting for either a strictly online exchange or fewer and fewer B&M outlets (also costing them property taxes) they are going to weasel in some sort of taxing scheme. In addition to “user fees” (also basically a tax, unless that is what you meant at the beginning of your post) going up or expanding the fee itemization schedule, I see more and more of this nonsense being implemented and strengthening the push for a formal VAT.

  9. “Precedent, schmeshident; where’s da munniez, bitch?”

  10. I fail to understand how a publication that purports to advocate for free markets can promote the systematic handicapping of one business class (those with storefronts) to subsidize another class. I’d abolish sales taxes tomorrow if I could, but a system that handicaps countless businesses by up to 10% is incredibly destructive to small business and far worse than a fairly applied sales tax.

    1. Jeff, when you get a consistent answer from 2 libertarians, let me know.

      Or even one libertarian from one minute to the next.

      They talk out of both sides of their mouth.

      Libertarianism is basically “government for me, and not for thee.”

      1. Psychopath?

        ? Superficial charm and average intelligence.
        ? Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking.
        ? Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations.
        ? Unreliability.
        ? Untruthfulness and insincerity.
        ? Lack of remorse or shame.
        ? Antisocial behavior without apparent compunction.
        ? Poor judgement and failure to learn from experience.
        ? Pathological egocentricity and incapacity to love.
        ? General poverty in major affective reactions.
        ? Specific loss of insight.
        ? Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations.
        ? Fantastic and uninviting behavior with drink, and sometimes without.
        ? Suicide threats rarely carried out.
        ? Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated.
        ? Failure to follow any life plan.

        ~ Hervery M. Cleckley, MD
        Mask of Sanity (1941)

      2. So your gripe with libertarians is that they don’t all share exactly the same beliefs? Interesting.

        FWIW, you should be directing your anger toward the bastards that seize your property every time you earn or spend a dollar. You don’t make the situation better by bringing everyone down to your level. Dick.

        1. So your gripe with libertarians is that they don’t all share exactly the same beliefs?

          No. It’s that weasel over the simplest of their “principles,” depending on how the debate is going.

          One second, they’re railing against the evil State. The next, they’re telling me “we need government to protect [whatever rights they say.]”

          The typical libertarian is as dishonest and unprincipled as a Leninist.

          1. “The next, they’re telling me “we need government to protect [whatever rights they say.]”

            Stand back folks! Badly injured strawman!

          2. “Uncle Owen! This troll has a bad logic and reasoning unit – look!”

            1. “Fuckin’ Jawas. Next time they come around, I’m gonna cut them up good.”

      3. riiiiight, and other positions are altruistic.

        jeff,

        I fail to see what you’re arguing. It is entirely legal for the state which houses the point of sale to tax the entity (and you do pay taxes to the state the sale is made in), but the state you live in and the goods are delivered to does not deserve to collect taxes. It only handicaps retailers from the standpoint that someone ordering something online living in a high sales tax state from a company based in a low sales tax state does not give money in the form of taxes to the high sales tax state (though the low sales tax state does get the benefit). That’s the high sales tax state’s problem, not the low sales tax state’s. Creating a system to send part of the tax to both states is ludicrous. At best, its a layer of bureaucracy that the company’s don’t deserve to have foisted upon them. At worst, it ends up double taxing goods that move across state lines, which is absurd.

    2. How are non-storefront businesses being subsidized?

      Storefront businesses receive (in theory at least) a variety of services in exchange for the taxes paid.

      What services does an online business in Washington receive from say, Nevada?

      1. What services does an online business in Washington receive from say, Nevada?

        The government services that sales tax payers are providing in Washington, that the online business is not paying.

        1. So the online business isn’t paying any taxes in its home state? You sure about that?

          1. Didn’t say that, Zero. Want to play again?

            1. Sure. You’re saying the business is benefiting from services without paying for them it its home state, right?

        2. that the online business is not paying.

          I’m pretty sure it is up to purchasers, not business, to pay sales tax.

        3. And that’s been exactly my position. As a former business owner, I’ve always wondered that States see themselves as empowered to put a sales tax on a sale which occurred in another State. It seems to me a company that made a sale in Delaware should pay sales tax to Delaware, even if the online purchaser made the purchase in Virginia.

          That would also solve the problem mentioned in the article that
          States have been trying to find a way to tax online retailers for years.
          They should be able to, so long as the company exists in their State.

          1. And they do, but the states that lack retail presence are bitching about getting their share of the pie because goods used to be point sold within the state more because catalog ordering was inconvenient. The internet changed all that.

      2. They allowed their subjects to do business with that awful, awful out-of-state company?

      3. Sales tax is paid by the buyer, not the merchant.

        1. That’s true superficially, but merchants are legally required to collect and remit those taxes when the state says they have sales tax nexus.

          1. How is that only superficially true? The merchant is only the intermediary, not the payer of the tax.

            1. For purposes of this discussion, it’s entirely about the merchant. That’s what these laws are about. Consumers are already supposed to be cutting checks for their on-line and catalog purchases in many jurisdictions.

              1. If we’re going to be technical about things, the discussion is about a tax, not a user fee, so the question about what services anyone involved gets from govt is irrelevant.

                If we’re going to broaden our horizons to ask questions not relevant to the strict formulation of the problem, then we have to broaden them uniformly, including considering what the purchaser’s involvement is.

            2. How is that only superficially true? The merchant is only the intermediary, not the payer of the tax.

              I don’t beleive the state cares whether the merchant collects the tax from the buyer or not. He will still have to pay it, regardless. Effectively, it is a tax on the merchant, which the merchant passes through to the buyer.

              1. It might depend on the state, but I know for certain that in NYS merchants have to charge sales tax. Some retailers will have sales with discounts equal to 1-1/(1+r) where r is the sales tax rate, which is equivalent to not charging sales tax, but they’re not allowed to say they’re not charging sales tax.

                1. The affiliate nexus laws are squarely aimed at merchants. I’m really not sure why you’re arguing this point.

                  If this were more directly aimed at consumers, the states would be scared to try to enact such laws. But since the target is big, bad, out-of-state companies (and it is, read the propaganda favoring these laws), many consumers don’t quite realize what’s happening.

                  1. You have a low opinion of consumer intelligence. How could a person who shops online read about the law and not realize that it would result in them paying more for online purchases?

                    There are probably a lot of people who are totally oblivious to the law’s possible passage, but they’d be oblivious regardless of what it said.

            3. Well, tulpy,

              Try declining to collect the the tax from your customers – instead providing them with the forms to mail in their payment individually while keeping their names and info handy for the taxing authority should the custoemrs fail to pay their taxes.

              Guess who the state is going to indict? hint: they’re going to sue one person, for all the money they didn’t get.

              1. Yes, the merchant is required to intermediate. I never disputed that.

                I stated that the one who ultimately provides the funds necessary to pay the sales tax is the purchaser. Which is correct.

                I mean, by your logic, none of us actually pays income tax, since when you write a check to the IRS it’s actually the bank that gives them the funds. So the bank is paying my income tax, I guess. (not to mention my employer paying my income tax during the year via withholding)

                1. Yes, the merchant is required to intermediate. I never disputed that.

                  I stated that the one who ultimately provides the funds necessary to pay the sales tax is the purchaser. Which is correct.

                  I mean, by your logic, none of us actually pays income tax, since when you write a check to the IRS it’s actually the bank that gives them the funds. So the bank is paying my income tax, I guess. (not to mention my employer paying my income tax during the year via withholding)

                  1. Bullshit
                  2. WTF are you talking about. I don’t mail a check to the government. The companies surcharge to the effect necessary and all laws end up hitting them, not me
                  3. My bank holds my money, the company doesn’t until I pay them for a good. The bank is purely facilitating a transaction whereas I am conducting a transaction with the business, which then surcharges me so that they meet their obligation to the state.

                  In every possible practical fucking way, the business pays the tax.

                  1. Really the business is acting as an unpaid tax collector almost identical to employers withholding taxes from paychecks and remitting them to the government every pay period.

                    Whether they add it on as a separate line item or build into the cost of the product/service, they’re just tax collectors.

            4. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you’re a moron.

              Have you ever sent the government a check for your purchases during the year? If you have, you’re the sucker.

              1. So if I get a refund at the end of the year, that means my employer paid my entire income tax, not me.

        2. Which make a purchases tax, not a sales tax.
          Leave it to government to misrepresent everything they do.

      4. 1. If my direct competitor is exempted from a tax I must pay, they are effectively being subsidized by the government.

        2. A Washington-based online retailer might be challenged to deliver goods to customers in Nevada without roads.

        1. Did it really take this long for someone to mention roads?

          /shocked

        2. ROADS!!

          1. The business does not pay the tax. The purchaser pays the tax. The business must only register with the state and collect the tax from the consumer and remit it to the state.

          2. Where a retailer routinely delivers goods within the state using its own vehicles, it generally has established sufficient nexus for the state to tax not only the sale, but also potentially a portion of the income of the business. What we’re talking about here is where the business has zero connection with the state.

          Keep trying, though.

          1. Husband of former small business owner. The state gov’t demands a per cent of the business’s sales. PERIOD. They don’t care what the customers paid you – the want THEIR money from YOU. My wife was late one year with the payment and got a bill for what the Mass gov’t thought she owed and it was prove she doesn’t owe it. One of the many gov’t-related reasons she’s a former business owner

          2. The business pays the tax in every practical sense. Only if they didn’t sell any goods would they not pay the tax. If the business did not remit to the state, they couldn’t just hand over a list of names for the government to go after the consumers, they’d get fined themselves.

            2. Agreed, but the business still pays the tax.

        3. How many of these “subsidized” online stores use their own vehicles to deliver their goods? Do Fedex and UPS not pay taxes in the states they do business in?

          1. Dammit, I need to refresh more. Good point, BSR.

          2. Indeed, its basically states that discourage the new business model getting scared because states that embraced the new business model are getting more money. And everyone wants their slice of the fewer remaining consumers.

        4. Roads are maintained through fuel taxes — a direct tax on the beneficiaries. The best-justified tax I know. Next you’ll be advocating the Washington company’s delivery service be require to purchase gasoline in Nevada, right?

          On Jeff’s behalf I now propose the Dutiful Motorist Sharing Highways Tax (DuMSHiT). All motor vehicles must stop in each State though which they travel (even the microStates like Massachusetts and New Jersey) to top up their fuel tanks, and buy one bottled beverage not less than 16 ounces, plus a bag of chips or other snack item not less than $1.01 in after-tax retail value.

          Did your life just get happy, or do you still need to whine about it not being fair? Any business faces competitors that seek “unfair” advantage. You figure out how to gain efficiency. Or you suffer from your lack of competence. And your customers with you.

        5. It’s not that direct-one of you has a physical presence in the form of a storefront, the other does not.

          The vehicles that operate on the roads in Nevada pay for those roads either by purchasing fuel in Nevada or through that whole apportionment process. Either way, they’re not getting a free ride.

    3. The author of the article noted that SC precedent allows for collecting tax where a company has a “physical “nexus””, and did not advocate the reversing of that policy.

      In fact, the online retailer would be at a disadvantage considering the tremendous expenses that would be incurred tracking all the other states’ sales tax policies.

    4. Jeff, what you fail to understand is that brick & mortar stores are only handicapped by themselves.

      We have two stores:
      1.) One brick & mortar that only sells locally
      2.) One brick & mortar that sells locally and to other states online.

      Store 1 collects sales tax for purchases made in their store. Store 2 collects sales tax for purchases made in their store as well as online for in-state residents.

      Store 1 doesn’t collect taxes for out-of-state sales because it chooses to sell only in-state. Store 2 doesn’t collect taxes for out-of-state sales.

      Where’s the handicap occurring?

    5. Jeff, first you’ll have to explain how a business is “handicapped” by a state sales tax. And then how imposing a sales tax “subsidizes” another business.

      None of the tax money collected comes from the business – it comes from the purchaser. And none of it goes to any other business – it goes into the state treasury.

      The traditional theory is that sales tax is one of the things you pay in exchange for the benefits of conducting your affairs within the state and benefiting from the protections the state provides (e.g., police, fire, ROADS!, the court system via which you can sue others and collect unpaid debts, etc.).

      Where a seller has ZERO connection with the state – no physical presence or connection of any kind – not even the computer servers hosting its website, and an individual orders something via the web:

      (1) where does the sale occur? Traditionally, the sales tax applies in the jurisdiction in which the sale takes place. When you’re standing at a store counter, handing over money or a credit card and being handed goods in return, it’s pretty clear where the sale occurs. But in an internet transaction, *where* does the sale happen?

      2. What justifies the state imposing the tax on that transaction, when the retailer has zero connection with the state – and if the state has a use tax, it can impose it upon the user of the goods. Oops, that’s hard to do…

      1. Jeff, first you’ll have to explain how a business is “handicapped” by a state sales tax. And then how imposing a sales tax “subsidizes” another business.

        Because it artificially increases the cost of buying from the brick & mortar business. Just like the state deciding to tax purchases on identical items at Walmart but not Target would harm Walmart.

        1. Its only artificial because brick and morter businesses have to retail rather than wholesale. Online sales from Amazon cut out the distribution network. In other words, its the free market making things more effecient you dumb motherfucker.

          1. Amazon doesn’t cut out the distribution network at all, it just uses UPS and Fedex etc for distribution. Which on a per item/pound basis is significantly more expensive than Walmart’s distribution network.

    6. I fail to understand how a publication that purports to advocate for free markets can promote the systematic handicapping of one business class (those with storefronts) to subsidize another class.

      Easy, on two fronts.

      (1) Current in-state only sales taxes fall on those who are in a position to vote for (or against) them. Allowing states to tax out-of-state residents and businesses is not a recipe for Good Things. “No taxation without representation” – remember that one?

      (2) In-state businesses actually benefit from, or at least consume resources from, the government. So there is some claim, at least, that they should pay taxes to that government.

      1. The states wouldn’t be taxing out-of-state residents via this tax, so I have not the faintest idea what you’re getting at.

        Additionally, out-of-state residents already pay sales tax when they purchase goods and services while physically visiting another state. So the taxation without representation argument proves too much.

        1. The residents do not reside in the same state as the business and the state in which the consumers reside is where the taxes are supposed to be collected.

          I think the days are over when an out-of-state resident got no tax whereas an in-state resident had to pay the tax. Now everyone pays the tax of the state from which the good is purchased.

    7. How is it less principled? In fact, it’s much more principled. We’re advocating for lessening of government force. And it is the state that is the cause of the “handicap”. Even though you’re saying you’d abolish sales tax, you’d want other people to pay. That’s like saying “hey, I’m being robbed, but as long as my neighbor is too, then it’s all good”.

    8. For the second time today, Diana Moon Glampers has entered our midst.

    9. Have you ever purchased anything online besides p0rn?

      If you had, you’d know that in most cases, there are shipping charges. In many cases, the shipping costs for an online retailer exceed the sales tax you would pay if you bought the stuff at a local brick ‘n’ mortar store. Plus, buyers know there’s obviously a delay between purchase and acquisition of online merchandise. So online retailers are already handicapped just as you are; just not in the same ways.

      If online stores are that destructive to your business, it means you aren’t doing a good job of competing by stocking a wide enough variety of merchandise, you’re in a bad/low-traffic location, you’re not marketing the merchandise attractively enough, your base prices are too high, or all of the above.

      I’m not saying sales taxes are correct; I actually don’t see any reason that the government should or is permitted to collect money based off things that we buy. But the playing field is already leveled by the sheer nature of delayed, remote shopping vs. instant, in-person shopping.

      1. The big online retailers have free shipping for orders over a certain dollar total, free shipping programs (like Amazon Prime), etc. And for many items a 2-5 day wait for it to arrive is insignificant. I mean, yeah, if you’re buying toothpaste it makes no sense to buy it online, but a camera or a computer is another matter.

        1. Free shipping, like free healthcare and free schools?

          Prime isn’t even invisibly “free.”

    10. The free markets are handicapping anyone. The states are handicapping the local businesses. The answer isnt to shackle both. The answer is to remove the shackle from the local businesses.

      1. arent in that first sentence.

  11. in July, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced a similar act with a similar name, the Main Street Fairness Act.

    Just when you think you couldn’t hate the guy more…

  12. One issue with the article —

    “And it’s not clear why a company in Oregon, say, should be burdened with the costly proposition of collecting taxes for every other state and sorting through 49 other tax codes.”

    That company in Oregon would be burdened with sales tax for every county and municipality in the country. The sales tax rates changes between LA and Orange Counties, not to mention every other county in America.

    It’s way more complex than just 49 states.

    1. The online stores for Walmart and BN and Apple etc. have to deal with that already. If they were doing it by hand (as would have been the case back in the early days of mail-order catalogs when the SCOTUS precedents were decided) it would be a pain in the neck, but not when it takes 0.5 microseconds for a computer to figure out what county an address is in and look up the tax rate from a table.

      1. You’re completely disregarding the effort it took to create and set up that system in the first place.

        If I remember correctly, there are over 3,000 taxing jurisdictions in the U.S.

        1. I could write a program over the weekend to take address as an input and spit out sales tax rate as an output.

          There are much, much more complicated issues in e-commerce software than figuring out sales tax.

          1. I love when you talk out your ass. Parsing addresses is one of the things I do, including determining what county an address is in. Do you know how fucking hard that is? Parsing “123 Main St., Bumfuck, WI” is easy. What about “7266 Main St., 12345”, where the actual registered address is for a duplex and is “7264-7266 Main St., 12345”? Or where the city name is a vanity name?

              1. oh, look who spoke too soon.

                1. ^ Replying to Warty

            1. You don’t just submit a raw string when you’re ordering stuff online. You fill out a form with all the parts of the address separate.

              1. That’s not what you said. You said take an address as an input.

                Good attempt at a save, though, I have to give you credit.

                1. I didn’t say the input was a single string, let alone one in random format with possible missing information.

                  1. Keep spinning, Commodore. You said “parse an address”, implying that you could do that easily, which you can’t.

                    If you didn’t mean to say that you could easily parse addresses, you would have said “look up a zip code”. Which you did not say.

                    Stop being a dick and admit that you thought parsing addresses is easy, which it is not. You’ll look like less of an ass, which for you is important.

                    1. I never said “parse”. I said “take as input”.

                      I’m well aware parsing is hard, that’s why I don’t do it.

                    2. And the duplex example you give is meaningless for the purpose of determining the sales tax rate. It might screw up the shipping and credit card verification but it won’t impact the county ID.

                    3. Still trying, Commodore? You do know that zip codes can cross county lines, right? So you still have to analyze the city name and state.

                      You. Are. Busted. It’s obvious to everyone. Stop wasting my time trying to pretend you weren’t talking out of your ass.

                    4. PWND for sure now, right?

                    5. More than PWND! Fact PWND!

                    6. Wow, where were you guys when I pointed out Epi’s misquoting of me?

                      Oh wait. This is a tribe thing, isn’t it.

                    7. I can’t believe what a stubborn little shit you’re being.

                      I do this as part of our core functions. Saying that it’s not a daunting challenge is the most ignorant, childish bullshit I can imagine.

                      You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Stop being a bitch and admit you’re wrong.

                    8. This is your own fault for talking to Tulpa. What did you think would happen?

                    9. He’d turn into Leighton Meester?

                    10. At best, he’d turn into Katie Holmes.

                    11. That’s not good enough. Besides, he turned into Sarah Jessica Parker.

                    12. I do this as part of our core functions.

                      The “this” you’re talking about is a different (and harder) problem. You have a much broader array of concerns, as evidenced by your initial response worrying about duplexes etc. There’s a lot more that can get screwed up in the shipping and credit card approval areas than in the sales tax determination area if you screw up the address.

                    13. You really like looking stupid, don’t you?

                      New York has villages that cross two towns, for instance, and if I recall correctly, they may even have ones that cross two counties.

                      This. Is. Not. Trivial.

                    14. It might take more than a weekend, but it’s hardly the daunting challenge it was being made out to be. As I stated, online stores associated with brick&mortar; outlets already have to do this.

                    15. I can’t believe what a stubborn little shit you’re being.

                      I do this as part of our core functions. Saying that it’s not a daunting challenge is the most ignorant, childish bullshit I can imagine.

                      You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Stop being a bitch and admit you’re wrong.

                    16. Being a curmudgeon is one of my core functions, so suck up and deal.

            2. Or where the city name is a vanity name?

              Not a problem when you have the zip code. Which every online retailer I’m aware of will require (not only for shipping but for credit card processing).

              1. I’ve also worked with validation of addresses. Epi is right and you are not. Hell, you’d be surprised, apparently, at what a huge PITA it is for any number of reasons, including new development, renamed streets, and “colloquial” usage of addresses that doesn’t match what’s in a database. Not to mention taxing jurisdictions that extend to odd boundaries. ZIP codes are not the be-all, end-all, even in ZIP+4.

                It is a decidedly non-trivial issue. Believe what you want.

                1. It’s an issue that’s been solved. It’s not the flerking traveling salesman problem.

              2. The Village of Saranac Lake NY includes three towns Harrietstown, St. Armand, and North Elba and is in two counties, Franklin and Essex. The village only has one zip code.

          2. So?

            The issue isn’t just the complexity. It’s the additional fact that remote jurisdictions lack any legal basis to impose requirements on a party who lacks a tangible connection to those jurisdictions.

            The fact that a seller of widgets has some customers in a particular state has NEVER been sufficient, standing alone, to expose the seller to legal liability in that state. That’s a function of the Due Process Clause, not some crufty artifact of mail-order history.

            1. That’s a valid argument but it’s not the one I’m responding to. I’m responding to the people claiming it’s infeasible to get a sales tax rate from an address.

              1. Then you’re arguing a strawman, because feasibility isn’t the issue here. Its the impostion of complexity on the businesses which have to set up a system to not only calculate, but remit small amounts of tax all across the country, which is a huge burden on the online business world. It makes the complexity of distribution across the world look like a walk in the park.

                1. So, if someone lives at ONE physical address, but orders something to be delivered to a P.O. box or a business or a second residence with ANOTHER physical address…

                  1. I’m not sure how that’s handled. I would guess that the billing address rather than the shipping address would be used for sales tax purchases.

                    It’s not a new conundrum anyway — as I’ve noted several times, Walmart and Apple etc have to deal with this already.

                2. Which brick & mortar stores already have to do for online sales.

                  Oh, and I’m certain you guys would be against a nationally uniform sales tax for online purchases too. So the complaint about complexity is just a red herring.

          3. Goddam, boys, figuring out the addresses is the easy part.

            Keeping the bits about how much tax to charge current is the hard part.

            1. It’s pretty complicated. For instance, in New York, shoes are taxed differently at different dollar amounts. In some states, food isn’t taxable. And this crap changes all the time in every state.

              Not to mention, some cross-border companies are quite small and would have trouble complying anyway you cut it.

              On top of all of this, if states can assert nexus for sales tax, what about for income tax?

              1. I don’t know of many online merchants shipping milk and bread across the country.

                1. I don’t know of many online merchants shipping milk and bread across the country.

                  There may be a centralized online who is in the employ of several local merchants, within a larger network statewide, who do indeed specialized in the delivery of perishable groceries. It’s no different than delivering pizzas or Schwanns.

                  1. OK, but that sounds like a nexus to me.

                    1. Not every state excludes food the same way, either. I believe some would exempt an order from, say, David’s Cookies.

                      What’s really scary is wine.

                    2. In some jurisdictions, Twix is a non-taxable baked good because it contains wheat (or a wheat-like substance). In others, it is taxable candy because it is coated in chocolate (or a chocolate-like substance). And, yes, Amazon ships Twix.

                  2. When I was in Iraq, I bought loads of food items online. Sometimes, in bulk.

            2. Goddam, boys, figuring out the addresses is the easy part.

              No it’s not. People who know nothing about addresses should really shut the fuck up about them.

              1. They’re just addresses, Epi. No need to go postal.

                1. No need to go postal.

                  Booo! (throws tomatoes)

                  1. Bah, I was hoping Epi would be the one to respond.

                    I think he keeps coming back here because, like athlete’s foot, I’ve grown on him.

          4. I don’t know of many online merchants shipping milk and bread across the country.

        2. And of course, once it’s written it’s written and can be used by any company that needs it; it doesn’t have to be specialized for each online merchant. So it’s probably not expensive at all to just buy a copy of the software that does it.

          1. The laws aren’t remotely static. People in my profession don’t track laws for free or let just one client pay once for an expensive compilation.

            1. Sounds like a business opportunity for some enterprising entrepreneur*. If this passes every online merchant is going to need essentially the same solution.

              * Assuming someone isn’t already providing sales tax lookup service to retailers with both online and brick&mortar; stores.

              1. If everyone were Walmart, that might be feasible.

                The big flaw in your argument is that a federal bill has been making the rounds for many years to set up a process for a federally mediated sales tax platform. The problem with that bill at the outset was the need for states to simplify their tax codes. If it wasn’t a problem, why were the states themselves agreeing that it was?

                1. The software/update service would be identical for every online merchant. You don’t need a customized solution. It wouldn’t be that expensive.

                  1. It wouldn’t be that expensive.

                    How generous of you, to charge us only a modest fee to ensure that we collect and pay taxes in jurisdictions WHERE WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO PRESENCE!

                    1. Then don’t do business with people from that jurisdiction.

                      The world of online retail giveth, the world of online retail taketh away.

                      “If you can’t take a little bloody nose, maybe you oughtta go back home and crawl under your bed. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it’s not for the timid.”

              2. Sounds like a business opportunity for some enterprising entrepreneur increased compliance costs that will either prevent resources from being used productively or increase the price the consumer pays.

                That’s actually a common theme in all free trade/internet tax discussions. Those wanting tariffs or taxes on online retailers are pretty much saying “Fuck you” to the consumer.

                1. “Fuck You, Consumers” is the new motto of the United States.

                  1. That’s better than Canada’s “Screw You Taxpayer!”, I guess.

          2. So it’s probably not expensive at all to just buy a copy of the software that does it.

            Good God. The above statement is a home PC view of the computer world. If you want your computer to do something you just install it. Unfortunately for Tupla, database programs used for POS or online ordering don’t work that way. A copy of the software that does the tax calculation would be worthless as it would have to be integrated into the ordering system. The reality is that online ordering systems are proprietary systems that require PCI (Payment Card Industry) certification to process credit cards. Attempting to integrate any 3rd party software would be a violation of the licensing agreement effectively invalidating the PCI certification. In addition, the vendor using this non-compliant software is now (by written agreement with the credit card processor) responsible for any fraudulent charges. The bottom line is Tupla knows nothing about software development and even less about application security when sensitive data (like credit cards) is involved.

            1. No, I’m not an expert in software development or e-commerce. I admit that much. But let’s look at how the argument against me has morphed during this discussion:

              1. Getting a sales tax rate from a form-entered address is intractable…[shown to be false]

              2. Software to do this has never been developed and would represent a great cost…[shown to be false by Walmart etc]

              3. And now, there’s some bureaucracy hurdles to be dealt with in the form of PCI licensing.

              In other words, the complexity argument is dying a death by a thousand cuts.

              It wouldn’t be in the interest of credit card companies to drag their feet on licensing sales tax computation software if this law went into effect. Doing so would mean losing a ton of charges. No, I’m not an expert on that area of human endeavor, but I can’t imagine it would represent a significant hurdle.

              1. 1. Getting a sales tax rate from a form-entered address is intractable…[shown to be false]

                Still beating that strawman.

                Lost_In_Translation|10.14.11 @ 4:13PM|#
                Then you’re arguing a strawman, because feasibility isn’t the issue here. Its the impostion of complexity on the businesses which have to set up a system to not only calculate, but remit small amounts of tax all across the country, which is a huge burden on the online business world. It makes the complexity of distribution across the world look like a walk in the park.

                Also:
                Greg F|10.14.11 @ 4:40PM
                The Village of Saranac Lake NY includes three towns Harrietstown, St. Armand, and North Elba and is in two counties, Franklin and Essex. The village only has one zip code.

                2. Software to do this has never been developed and would represent a great cost…[shown to be false by Walmart etc]

                Another strawman. Of course it’s been developed. It just isn’t as cheap as you would like to believe. I manage 2 POS systems for a small museum. We considered selling online for a while. The cost for the sales tax module for just our state is $600 per year. Companies like Walmart or Apple do enough volume to justify this cost. A lot of companies simply couldn’t afford that additional cost.

                3. And now, there’s some bureaucracy hurdles to be dealt with in the form of PCI licensing.

                First it is a certification not a license. Second it is quite clear you didn’t bother to even look at the PCI requirements. Had you bothered to look at the requirements (and could actually understand the requirements, which I doubt you could) you would notice they are quite flexable and reasonable from a computer security and economic point of view. But hey! Its easier to spout some unsupported BS about “bureaucracy hurdles” then it is to actually get the facts. The billions of dollars of fraudulent credit card charges every year doesn’t appear anywhere in this simplistic world you seem to live in.

                It wouldn’t be in the interest of credit card companies to drag their feet on licensing sales tax computation software if this law went into effect.

                Do you take pride in demonstrating your ignorance? I detect a bit of projection here. Perhaps you should not “drag your feet” on actually trying to understand the complexity if the issue. Naw you would rather try to paper over the complexities that destroy the comic book view of the world you hold.

      2. The online stores for Walmart and BN and Apple etc. have to deal with that already.

        No, they only have to do it for the states, etc., in which they would have to do it if they had no internet sales at all.

        It doesn’t impose any additional burden on them.

        1. Walmart has stores in every state, and BN and Apple have them in nearly every state with the exceptions representing an insignificant percentage of their customers.

          1. Yes. And?

            My point was that current law imposes no tax compliance burdens on their on-line operations that they wouldn’t have to sort out even if they had no on-line operations.

            Currently, a retailer only has to know about and comply with the tax laws where they actually have a B & M footprint. If you happen to have a footprint in every state, then you had to keep up with every state’s tax laws even before you went on-line.

            The proposed new taxes, however, would impose vast new burdens on every on-line retailer. Now, every on-line retailer will have to comply with the tax laws of every jurisdiction. Or, of course, refuse to sell in that jurisdiction.

            1. If you have a physical presence in a state, too, you’re likely to have retained local counsel for a variety of things, including tax advice (for avoiding and for paying taxes).

            2. Ah, but as discussed above, the sales tax rates can be different from county to county, not just state to state. So Walmart does indeed have to worry about tax rates in counties where they have no stores.

              1. Is this supposed to help your argument? Because I don’t see how.

                1. Are you willfully blind?

                  The argument is over whether it’s possible to translate an address to a sales tax rate in real time. Walmart, B&N, etc are already doing it, therefore it’s possible.

                  This isn’t rocket logic.

              2. So Walmart does indeed have to worry about tax rates in counties where they have no stores.

                wtf, no they don’t. Prove to me they do. they may have to pay taxes equivalent to the nearest distribution center, but if someone in bumfuck, tx orders something from walmart, show where they have to pay taxes to asshole county?

                1. Uh, it would be just as hard to figure out where the nearest “nexus” is as which county the address is in. That would be a really strange system, where a county collects sales tax for a transaction that had nothing to do with anyone or anything in the county.

                2. I just put a $65 watch in my shopping cart at the Bon Ton online store and it said I’d have to pay $4.55 in tax, which is 7%. The only jurisdiction in PA where sales tax is 7% is Allegheny County…the nearest Bon Ton is in Westmoreland County.

                  (I tried to do it with shorts but forgot that PA doesn’t tax clothing)

                3. Actually, Tulpa is right on this particular point. (Although I disagree with him on nearly everything else.)

                  I live in Texas and I sell online, so I have to pay sales tax here. For most purposes, sales tax rates are determined by the shipping address. So, I’m supposed to pay taxes to any taxing jurisdiction in the state.

                  “Local sales and use taxes may be due depending on where you receive orders and where the products are delivered.”

          2. Arguably McDonalds is a better example, because they have stores in almost every county in America as opposed to Walmart or BN or Apple. But McDonalds is huge and relies on a franchise system to protect the home company from having to understand every single tax code issue at a corporate level.

            But take a small online company and impose McDonalds complexity on them and watch the collapse begin.

  13. Say it again, only louder.

  14. Either law would contradict Supreme Court precedent that mail-order catalogs and other remote businesses only have to collect taxes in states where they have a physical “nexus”?a warehouse or an office, for instance.

    This is not the case. The precedents merely state that state legislatures can’t regulate interstate commerce without permission from Congress. They certainly don’t say it would be unconstitutional for Congress to give that permission.

    1. I should clarify: the summary of the precedents that the author of the post wrote is correct, but it’s referring to what commerce states can tax without permission from Congress. Once Congress gives permission states can tax anything they want.

      1. You’re disregarding the due process argument. Congress cannot enact legislation excusing states from the Due Process Clause.

        1. From the decision linked in the original post:

          This aspect of our decision is made easier by the fact that the underlying issue is not only one that Congress may be better qualified to resolve, [n.10] but also one that Congress has the ultimate power to resolve. No matter how we evaluate the burdens that use taxes impose on interstate commerce, Congress remains free to disagree with our conclusions. See Prudential Insurance Co. v. Benjamin, 328 U.S. 408 (1946). Indeed, in recent years Congress has considered legislation that would “overrule” the Bellas Hess rule. [n.11] Its decision not to take action in this direction may, of course, have been dictated by respect for our holding in Bellas Hess that the Due Process Clause prohibits States from imposing such taxes, but today we have put that problem to rest. Accordingly, Congress is now free to decide whether, when, and to what extent the States may burden interstate mail order concerns with a duty to collect use taxes.

    2. I came here to say this. In fact, the court in Quill explicityly said in the decision that this is a matter best resolved by Congress. Or, translation, we were kind of short sighted on our original decision and so we’re just punting right now.

  15. If it can be done, not only should it be done, but it must be done.

  16. While we’re on the subject of taxes, for all you procrastinators, don’t forget that if you filed a 4868 extension, your income tax return is due 10/17. Don’t be the guy who dumps a shoebox full of documents on your accountant’s desk on Monday afternoon.

    1. Is your favorite Son of Anarchy Bobby Elvis, because he’s an accountant, or Jax, because he’s dreamy? Show your work.

      1. I’ve never seen that show but the blond dude is not dark and scruffy enough for me. When it comes to representing the profession in the media, I did enjoy the pot smoking accountant on Weeds, however.

        1. Opie‘s the one for you, obviously.

          And you should watch it. So many crimes, and the federal government is the main bad guy.

          1. Ooh, it is even on Netflix Play Instant. Nice.

            And that is quite the beard.

        2. Friggin’ Canadians don’t even know who Kevin Nealon is. Damn frostbacks.

    2. And remember: Be nice to your accountant. Sure, CPAs are a cartel, but they’re still working on your behalf against the government.

    3. AH! Thank you Dagster for reminding me; I would’ve hated rushing to the accountant, grabbing the wrong box in haste, and mistakenly dumping a bunch of old pathology specimens I forgot to toss.

      Wait, can I itemize those?

      1. Only if you’re Tim Geithner.

        1. He is a pathology specimen.

          1. Stored in a jar of formaldehyde?

            1. Not soon enough. The slippery little shit is hard to catch.

  17. Even if the states get this fucking thing, I confidently predict that they’ll still be broke and crying the blues and looking for more ways to “enhance revenue”. They just can’t fucking stop increasing spending. “Austerity” my ass.

    They’ll never solve their fiscal problems until they address that simple fact.

  18. In the Friday evening administrative info dump, Obama gives us another fucking war!

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/po…..ance-army/

    Before Democratic shit stains can say differently, I’ll save you them the trouble: it is a war:

    Two days ago President Obama authorized the deployment to Uganda of approximately 100 combat-equipped U.S. forces to help regional forces “remove from the battlefield” ? meaning capture or kill ? Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and senior leaders of the LRA

    Troops on the ground, active battle field participation.

    1. Oh, for fuck’s sake.

      1. Fuck it, let’s start annexing countries.

          1. That’s right. I’m going to buy some salt futures right now.

            1. Q: Conan, what is best in life?

              A: Crush Ugandans, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.

              1. You know, we’re always sitting around handwringing about why the U.S. is always intervening and acting like the world’s cop. I say we go whole hog this time, conquering Uganda, annexing it as an American province, installing a proconsul, seizing its resources, and enslaving its people. For old time’s sake.

                1. Viceroyalty. I have always been partial to the title “viceroy”.

                  1. As I am partial to the old Roman titles.

                    Tell you what. For our conquests in Europe, we use the Roman labeling system. For Africa, we’ll use British Empire nomenclature.

                    1. I’d go more for “viscount”. Way more obscure.

                    2. I demand to be appointed Khan of one of our new provinces. You shall be my head tax farmer, Pro Lib.

                    3. KHAN!!! KHAN!!! KHAN!!!!!!

    2. I’m starting to think the administration just throws darts at a map.

      POTUS: “Alright Joe. Make it a good one.”

      Biden: “Here goes!” -throws dart-

      POTUS: “Fuck! Russia? I don’t think so. Try again.”

    3. You know who benefits from a weak Uganda? The country on their eastern border.

      Hmmm…..

      1. Jesus. You’re right. Maybe the fucker really is Kenyan!

        [Runs screaming into the streets.]

    4. Isn’t the Lord’s Resistance Army the insurgents?

      Isn’t Obama now going to war to defend oppressive governments?

      And this time, he’s gone to war without the fig leaf of “no boots on the ground” or a NATO action or any of the rest of it.

      I hope this lays to rest any claims in the future that the slippery slope is some kind of fallacy.

      1. I say we amend the Constitution to require someone besides the president–say, Congress–to authorize military action. Call it a proclamation of hostilities or something like that. Under this system, it would be illegal and unconstitutional for a president to launch attacks against other nations. We could defend ourselves if attacked without the proclamation.

        Too goofball?

        1. Oh, sure, just go ahead and make the Consitution a suicide pact while you’re at it.

          1. You’re right. Besides, it would be hard to make it jibe with the national security override in Article VIII.

      2. Isn’t the Lord’s Resistance Army the insurgents?

        They’re Christian insurgents; like the Copts, he doesn’t give a shit.

        Isn’t Obama now going to war to defend oppressive governments?

        Ugandan Christian are expendable for the greater good.

        And this time, he’s gone to war without the fig leaf of “no boots on the ground” or a NATO action or any of the rest of it.

        Gotta take out those pesky Christians willing to fight for freedom to prevent the Islamic democracy narrative from being impinged.

        I hope this lays to rest any claims in the future that the slippery slope is some kind of fallacy.

        It was proven tautological in life a long time ago, but the swiftness of Obama’s series of military events is remarkable.

        1. So he’s Kenyan and a secret Muslim? And to think I scoffed at all of those conspiracy theories!

          1. Don’t be a nitwit Pro’L Dib; I don’t buy that “Oh Noes! He’s a secret Kenyan mewslim!” tripe.

            But he has shown an unusual admiration and affection for those countries at the expense of other minority populations within those countries, Egypt in particular.

            This time, US boots are going after that minority. Just sayin’.

            1. So we really did land on the Moon?

              1. Silence, impudent vermin or I’ll send sardaukar after your insolent ass! It seems to be popular these days.

                1. If Obama can ignore the Constitution, so can I. I’m ordering my troops into Costa Rica as we speak.

                  1. We need to retrieve the flag our astronauts planted on Mars, according to some dimwit congresswoman…

                    1. Yes, I agree. American honor is at stake. We need a colony on Mars before 2020l otherwise, the Iranian space program may get the flag first!

                    2. We have rockets. They can go many miles!

        2. 2 years, 6 days between Nobel Peace Prize and boots on the ground in Uganda.

    5. Is it? Not between nation-states, since our troops are there with the permission of the governments of the states in question.

  19. Did you guys hear about Detroit’s massive population increase?

    http://detroit.cbslocal.com/20…..ty-for-it/

  20. In NYS, you owe the state the tax for the anything you bought out of state and did not pay taxes. And if you did pay taxes, NYS wants you to give them the difference between what you paid and what NYS would get.

    There’s a line on the tax form to declare the amount, and it says you can’t leave it blank. So anything you enter is under the penalty of perjury.

    1. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

    2. And if you did pay taxes, NYS wants you to give them the difference between what you paid and what NYS would get.

      So if you paid more in another state than New York would have received, do they pay you the difference?

      1. Silly commenter, rules are for kids citizens.

    3. Which is another reason NOT to live in NYS.

  21. Sorry all, origin based sales tax creates more problems than it would solve. Basically we would have to re-write the Constitution. Remember the ‘Boston Tea Party?” “No Taxation without representation!” Why should I pay tax to a jurisdiction in California supporting their schools when the money is needed to support my kids schools and community here in NY. Sales tax is destination based as it directly supports the consumers paying them in their own communities. Besides, as i have learned, the technology already exists to easily handle destination based sales tax.

    Technology today can calculate shipping costs in seconds for almost any location in the world. Ebay, Overstock and many others including NetChoice all maintain that multi-jurisdictional interstate sales tax calculation is too difficult, however all maintain vast computer infrastructures capable of keeping track of millions of global transactions including commissions, cost of goods, and even incredibly complicated Value Added Taxes, Provincial Taxes and many other taxes and fees across many different country borders. I assure you sales tax calculation, collection and remittance for online sales tax legally due is easily accomplished.

    The Main Street Fairness Act will assist many businesses of all s to realize unknown profits making them more competitive. The online component of my business is in its infancy. After examining possible avenues of growth I was immediately stone walled by the tremendous burden of tax collection and remittance in my own state as well neighboring states. I said to myself “there has to be a better way!” So I turned to the Internet.

    There is a simple solution: TaxCloud (http://taxcloud.net).

    The statements by large Internet merchants and others continue to confuse me. My company now utilizes a PayPal checkout button that works with TaxCloud’s service so my business already calculates, collects and remits sales tax for any jurisdiction in any state. It is simpler in most cases for my business to calculate and remit sales tax than to deal with shipping. If my business can manage to collect legally due sales tax simplifying my customer’s lives, why is it so hard for Ebay, Overstock and their affiliates?

    Technology available freely on the Internet (like TaxCloud) is more than capable of seamlessly handling sales tax calculation and remittance. Sorry everyone, the “too burdensome” argument carried merit in 1967 and in 1992 (when SCOTUS last ruled on this matter), but in the era of modern computing where Ebay maintains a dominant position, multi-jurisdictional sales tax calculation and remittance is easily accomplished. TaxCloud accurately calculated sales tax for any jurisdiction for any state in 13 MILLISECONDS!

    So what is the real reason Ebay and other companies choose to evade supporting our schools, hospitals, infrastructure, libraries, parks and so much more by refusing to easily collect and remit sales tax legally due?

    It is clear that the real burden of sales tax falls upon the consumer, and there is no burden to business of any . Any business of any can easily calculate, collect and remit sales tax legally due utilizing modern technology while simultaneously realizing greater efficiencies and profit. Consumers truly benefit by eliminating the burden of having to track and remit sales tax due on Internet purchases.

    The MSFA (Main Street Fairness Act) is proper legislation enabling states rights to collect sales tax legally due while maintaining states individual rights to tax independently.

    Unrealized to most consumers are the true costs of permitting and embracing the illegal practice of tax evasion. This year Connecticut enacted the largest tax increase in it’s history. The increase included eliminating clothing exemptions, raising the sales tax rate %.35, %1 on all luxury goods over $1000 and tax on alcohol went up . CT is not alone. West Virginia now taxes groceries to make up for lost sales tax revenues resulting from increasing convenience of online shopping. Rhode Island as well as doubled, that’s right a 0 increase, on all park entry and parking fees. Property taxes in states such as NY have increasing at an alarming rate to maintain funding primarily for education.

    Low income wage earners are actually the hardest hit. Without the means and available credit to participate in online sales their only option is to shop locally paying increased sales tax rates, such as in CT, paying the tax bill for those who selfishly continue to evade their tax obligations. More interesting is the fact that for every million dollars in sales a brick and mortar company provides 3.8 jobs, while large online merchants provide only .8 jobs for the same amount of sales. Tax policies are not created or imposed to provide segregation of businesses. The passage of the MSFA will level the playing field benefitting many businesses and workers in every state.

    Sales tax is a fair and impartial tax billed directly to the consumer and in no way harms businesses when applied fairly and equally. Mall vacancy rates are now over nationally and increasing as more brick and mortar stores continue to close their doors. As more stores close jobs are lost, homes are lost and…. you get the picture. The real burden is now upon the millions of small businesses who provide many more jobs and opportunities to find ways to compete with the large Internet retailers.

    The real burden today is upon the consumer and the many small to medium d businesses being consumed by misinformation. I discovered that by progressively employing modern technology my small start up business is now able to compete in any state without fear of nexus laws or affiliate relationships, and is more efficient. The Main Street Fairness Act will enable states rights to collect sales tax legally due providing much needed revenue, create and save many jobs, and most importantly permit states to eliminate other harmful taxing methods.

    I applaud Amazon for their Integrity publicly supporting the Main Street Fairness Act.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/s…..z1axqwXrv5

  22. I don’t believe these new bills (or the existing “use taxes”) are allowed by the Constitution. Article I, Section 10 says, among other things, that a state cannot tax imports from another state without the consent of Congress, except a de-minimis tax to enable inspections at the state line. It goes on to say that if a state does impose this “de minimis” tax on imports (or a greater one with the permission of Congress), the proceeds must go to the federal treasury, not to the state.

    I don’t know if the courts have tested this argument, but it’s obvious to me.

  23. This is good information.
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