Veronique de Rugy: The Online Sales Tax Cash Grab

State governments are lobbying Congress for the power to require businesses to collect sales taxes on out-of-state purchases made online.

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In 2014, U.S. sales on the Internet amounted to an estimated $305 billion. While still small in comparison to the $4.7 trillion in overall domestic sales, the online component grew 15 percent over the previous year, sending terror into the hearts not only of brick-and-mortar competitors, but of state legislators desperate to get their hands on sales-tax revenue.

Now the two groups are lobbying Congress to let state governments require businesses to collect sales taxes on out-of-state purchases made online. But they should be careful what they wish for: A bill on the subject is making headway on Capitol Hill, and it's not quite what the two lobbies wanted, according to Veronique de Rugy.

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