Internet Sales Taxes
The Senate will begin debating a bill which would allow states to require Internet retailers to collect sales taxes. Currently, states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes only if the retailer has a “physical” location in that state.
This current situation gives Internet retailers a huge advantage over their bricks-and-mortar competitors. And as anyone who lives in or near an urban area knows, we need our bricks-and-mortar shops to survive if we don't want even more downtown areas to go belly up.
A lot of Republican senators are in favor of this bill. So are most governors, Democrat and Republican. Even Amazon.com — probably the main reason this bill is needed — is in favor of it. An Amazon spokesman said:
“Amazon.com has long supported a simplified nationwide approach that is evenhandedly applied and applicable to all but the smallest volume sellers.”
The bill was sponsored by Senator Mike Enzi (R—Wyoming), who said:
“I believe it is important to level the playing field for all retailers. We should not be subsidizing some taxpayers at the expense of others.”
Dan Crippen, executive director of the National Governors Association, said:
“It's a matter of equity for businesses. It's a matter of revenue for states.”
The House is less favorable to this bill. It’s opposed by eBay — ya think? — and by Heritage Action for America, an activist offshoot of the Heritage Foundation. Heritage Action for America has warned congress that it will be counting votes and keeping score.
OOOOHHHH!!!! In other words, anyone who votes for this piece of communist claptrap will get primaried by a Far Right Teabagger; and said Teabagger will then go on to lose the general election to a Democrat.
The main argument against an online sales tax is that it’s too burdensome for small online retailers, and too overwhelming to grapple with the different sales tax rates in thousands of jurisdictions.
To this argument, Dick Durbin pointed out that if this law is passed, states will be required to provide online retailers with free software that calculates sales taxes based on where a shopper lives. He said:
“We're way beyond the quill pen and ledger days. Thanks to computers and thanks to software it is not that complex.”