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Internet Sales Tax Vote This Week In US Senate 434

SonicSpike excerpts from CNet's coverage of the latest in the seemingly inevitable path toward consistently applied Internet sales taxes for U.S citizens: "Internet tax supporters are hoping that a vote in the U.S. Senate as early as today will finally give them enough political leverage to require Americans to pay sales taxes when shopping online. Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) are expected to offer an amendment to a Democratic budget resolution this week that, by allowing states to 'collect taxes on remote sales,' is intended to usher in the first national Internet sales tax." There goes one of the best ways to vote with your dollars.
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Internet Sales Tax Vote This Week In US Senate

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  • Getting the rates (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @02:54PM (#43237577) Homepage

    I'd be OK with sales tax on on-line sales, on one condition: states be required to provide a standard way for merchants, at no cost to the merchant, to ask what the sales tax rate for a given address should be, with the answer being the legally binding rate (if the merchant charges the rate given in that answer then the merchant cannot be held liable if that rate turns out to be wrong, and if the service failed to answer for any reason then the merchant can't be held liable for failing to charge sales tax).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 21, 2013 @02:54PM (#43237583)

    Umm, wasn't it techncially a "representation" revolt? Taxes are needed to pay for the services that are provided. Taxation without political power in return is what was the cause of the revolt.

  • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @02:58PM (#43237639)

    That we really need to close this loop hole. I'm not in favor of raising taxes or anything, but by making this law, we'd be going back to a revenue model that we know. The ripple effect would be we wouldn't get tax hikes in other places I'd imagine.

    And the government does need the money... it would be nice to see them get it internally, but that's idealism. We need pot holes fixed, bridges replaced, and maybe we could throw money at some of the issues we're behind the rest of the world on.

    Another ripple would be brick and mortar stores would regain some traction against online retailers, the argument used to be that shipping > tax, but that's dramatically changed over the last decade with free shipping being pretty easy to get as online firms compete against each other.

    The downside is of course less money for the savvy consumer, but history has taught us loop holes never end well, so I think the benefits outweigh the downside.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @03:04PM (#43237699)

    Umm, wasn't it techncially a "representation" revolt? Taxes are needed to pay for the services that are provided. Taxation without political power in return is what was the cause of the revolt.

    Yep, exactly. Which makes it even more relevant to the present case, not less.

  • Re:NOOOOOOO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by noh8rz10 ( 2716597 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @03:06PM (#43237731)
    I'm cool with the tax. Itthe current system puts brick and mortar at an enormous disadvantage, especially with commodities such as TVs with really thin margins. It used to be that sales tax balanced with shipping costs, but amazon effectively solved thee shipping cost problem. It's time to play on level playing field!
  • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @03:06PM (#43237735)

    If you'll check a history book, you'll find the rallying cry was not "No Taxation" but rather "No Taxation Without Representation". Huge difference.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @03:07PM (#43237745) Homepage

    As it will cover all Ebay sales and Craigslist sales.

    They want to charge you tax on even items you are not making money off of. Next up, Evil Garage sales and Flea Markets, how can we tax this scourge to the economy?

  • by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @03:14PM (#43237843) Journal

    "No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State." - Article 1, US Constitution.

    It seems to me, that any such legislation would be a tax being exported from one state to another. I don't believe a distinction can be made from those being exported and those being imported, since it is only matter of perspective. A tax on imports to a state is a tax on the same article being exported from another. There is no limit to the prohibition. It could also read: "All taxes and duties are prohibited on all articles being exported from any State."

  • To be fair... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Junta ( 36770 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @03:25PM (#43238001)

    The 'no sales tax' scenario is generally enticement to commit tax fraud.

    Usually, a 'no sales tax' purchase has an obligation to pay a 'use tax' equal to the amount the sales tax would have been. People saving money due to sales tax are almost always committing tax fraud.

    So this isn't levelling by force, it's correcting a 'loophole'. In my mind, abolish use tax, if you *must* enact sales tax to do that, oh well, it's easier than sales tax to keep track of.

  • by Synerg1y ( 2169962 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @03:38PM (#43238155)

    Two words: instant gratification .

    If you're not saving money anymore, you'd be surprised how much more justifiable it becomes to get something today rather than in a week. Most people leave their homes for work / errands / social occasions, so swinging by a brick and mortar is less of a big deal for some than others.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @03:38PM (#43238163)
    Maybe you haven't noticed, but Dell, Apple and Amazon do multiple millions of dollars in sales each year. Now if you think they should be given even more competitive advantage over small retailers, then this law is a great idea.
  • by andreMA ( 643885 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @03:48PM (#43238267)
    Folks are just going to drop-ship to sales-tax free states by having a friend or relative there order for them.
  • Re:To be fair... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @03:49PM (#43238283)

    This whole thing still shows even Congress doesn't grasp the basic laws at work.

    Sales Tax is almost always owed by the PURCHASER. That's why all the stores in my state have a LICENSE to COLLECT that tax and sent it on your behalf to the State. So if I buy something via mail order in Michigan from a business only in Iowa THAT BUSINESS has no obligation to MICHIGAN to collect anything. I still have the obligation to PAY MICHIGAN its USE TAX because I LIVE in that state.

    That's the only issue, that a state cannot tell people in OTHER STATES to follow its laws. Not to mention, complying with ONE state tax where your physical store is located is hard... Why should an online business have to collect for 50 states?

    Why don't states force BUSINESSES to pay the Sales Tax on what they sell? Because taxing sales BETWEEN THE STATES is illegal for any state to do. It's illegal for Ohio to force a business shipping into Ohio to pay ANY tax to do so. It's illegal for Michigan to COLLECT any tax from Michigan business on an item sold to Ohio. That keeps states from starting trade wars with each other.

    So either the FEDS need to enact a federal clearinghouse that allows Internet businesses to only file one form per customer, or they need to compel the BANKS and other financial services located IN EACH STATE to collect taxes based on their accounts mailing address. That's the closest to "constitutional" because you receive and pay your Visa at a bank licensed to your state, and you receive the bill at your postal mailing address. So each statement would only have to account for ONE sales tax per customer.

  • Re:NOOOOOOO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @03:52PM (#43238341)

    The bottom 50% of earners only receive 10%-15% of ALL THE MONEY in the posted GDP each year. They literally have nothing to tax.. And social security is STILL a higher percentage tax than the majority of businesses pay.

  • Corporate Taxes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nickmalthus ( 972450 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @04:28PM (#43238791)
    Interesting that Congress is focusing on tax loop holes that individuals take advantage of while leaving in place loop holes that allow corporations to hide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax havens. Equally interesting is that all these states that are groveling for additional revenue grant egregious tax breaks to said corporations in the hopes of luring their facilities for fleeting benefit until the inevitable better deal comes along. Who does Congress represent again?
  • Re:NOOOOOOO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @04:37PM (#43238877) Homepage

    Also relevant to this discussion: The median wage in the United States is $32,700. That means that half the country is earning less than that. If you're like a lot of /.ers and are a college-educated person working in technology, you should understand that your experience of life in America is nothing like what the majority of Americans experience. You are probably earning twice what the average American earns. You probably have quite a lot of disposable income and may have significant net worth. The average American family has negative savings and buys very little that isn't absolutely necessary to survive (food, clothing, housing, medical care, transportation, utilities).

    The reasons you might not be aware of these disparities are:
    - You probably live far away from the people who earn a lot less than you, so you don't see how people like that live.
    - You probably don't interact with people who earn a lot less than you on a regular basis. Or if you do, you see them as (for example) "that guy behind the fast food counter" or "the woman who cleans my office", rather than as flesh-and-blood people just like you.
    - Media do not regularly portray people in that economic situation.

  • by Thaedron ( 1907794 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @05:00PM (#43239155)
    I beg to differ on the saving money arguement... The vast majority of the time, my price comparisons don't even need to account for Sales Tax. I'm a Techie and to keep my electronics / gadget desires satisfied Amazon / NewEgg / MonoPrice / Etc... beat the local alternatives on base price. Nevermind accounting for sales Tax. I don't expect that taxing Internet sales will have any material impact on my online purchasing habits.
  • Re:NOOOOOOO (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kermidge ( 2221646 ) on Thursday March 21, 2013 @10:27PM (#43242569) Journal

    Good point. For a bit of perspective, I'm 65 and getting paid social security. With the recent raise, I get $500/month. Rent is $110/wk. in winter, $105 in summer, plus $10/wk. if you've an air conditioner in a window. To bring me up to, as I understand it, legal minimums, I also get $190 in SSI and $83 and change from the state. Internet is $38 some-odd per month. Tack on phone minutes, household and personal consumables. Were it not for what's still called Food Stamps I don't think that I could make it. That's worth $200/mo.

    My apartment is ~216 sq./ft. including the bathroom, in a house built in the 1880s; it's charming, with two 20-amp shared circuits, and I'm lacking a UPS. Place has a gas stove, half-height reefer, and a microwave. In this city, this is a good deal.

    Figuring out what to do with the remainder of my riches is an interesting exercise. Yet I've got it better than a substantial percentage of our fellow humans. There is no local war and I've got Medicare, without which I'd probably be dead. I even got to keep the leg.

    "Life's a bitch, then you die. If you're lucky, you get in her pants first."


    Oh, yeah: in principle I can see where sales tax on internet purchases could be fair. How to collect it without the collection measures costing more than collections, not so much.

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