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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Internet Sales Tax

A few things heard from various talking heads on the pending Internet Sales Tax legislation:

"The legislation is only 5 pages long!" - So said a right-leaning think tank talking head.  For the record, these are the same folks who regularly complain that bills passed by Congress are so long that they can't be read.  I actually think it's refreshing that this legislation is short and to the point.

"This is a Federal matter...Interstate Commerce...States should not have the right to collect this  tax...!" - So says the crew that normally crows about "States Rights".  For the record, these are also probably the same people who whine about "Judicial Activism", that is unless and until the "Judicial Activism" does something that they want.

"It will hurt small business!" - Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't small businesses that run "brick and mortar" know, those that have to charge sales tax...put at a competitive disadvantage by on-line competition that don't have to charge sales tax?  Why should the government even care how, for example, a textbook is sold?

"This is a tax increase!  No tax increases ever!" - How could it be a tax increase if I have to pay the tax anyway by virtue of buying (for example) a book at Barnes & Noble's physical store instead of their website?  What's more, Pennsylvania says that I actually do owe the tax, even if I bought the book on-line (see that little line on your PA-40 form).  This is about the most ridiculous, nonsensical argument I've heard in this whole entire debate.

Here's my bottom line
I don't want to pay any more than I have to for anything I buy.  Period.  But it's simply crazy that the method of purchase I choose dictates whether or not Pennsylvania get's a 6% sales tax off of my transaction.  Yes, each state needs (and should be forced to, as a condition of receiving the revenue) to make the process of collecting and remitting sales tax easy, but the fact remains that making some retailers charge sales tax but not others puts the government in the business of creating a competitive advantage where none should exist.  Internet commerce simply doesn't need government protection.

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