Skip to comments.States Close in on Internet Tax Collection
Posted on 07/08/2005 11:49:57 PM PDT by nickcarraway
The Internet sales tax issue may have reached the tipping point when 18 state tax collectors agreed upon an interstate set of sales tax rules. The tipping point, however, is still a long way from reality.
Meeting in Chicago last week, the Streamlined Sales Tax Project (SSTP) took its most significant step to date to implement the collection of sales taxes on online purchases, a potential $20 billion-a-year bonanza for cash-strapped states.
To bring those funds closer to state and local coffers, the SSTP officially admitted 18 states as members of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement's (SSUTA) governing board. The interstate alliance plans to offer retailers free software to voluntarily collect sales taxes by October.
Under the SSUTA compact, the simplified sales tax system cannot take effect until at least 10 states representing 20 percent of the total population are in compliance with the agreement. The 18 states admitted to the SSUTA board represent 25.3 percent of the population of states.
Despite the landmark agreement, though, no one is under any legal obligation to collect online sales taxes until Congress approves the deal.
States have struggled for years to force catalogue and online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases. In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court said states could only require sellers that have a physical presence or "nexus" in the same state as the consumer to collect the so-called use taxes.
The court also ruled that buyers owe the tax, but the current patchwork of more than 7,500 taxing jurisdictions across the country is too complex and burdensome for online retailers to charge and collect sales taxes. To collect the taxes, the court ruled, states would need to first simplify the existing system.
To overturn the Supreme Court's decision, Congress has to certify the states have streamlined their sales taxes.
Led by the National Governors Association (NGA), states and local governments began the process five years ago of simplifying their sales taxes through the SSTP.
Two years ago, Senators Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Brian Dorgan (D-N.D.) introduced a bill to require out-of-state retailers, including Internet businesses, to charge and collect sales taxes on transactions. The legislation had the effect of sanctioning the SSTP efforts.
"E-commerce has caused a significant change in consumer buying trends. More and more people are making purchases through remote businesses, such as online, catalog and phone-order," Enzi said when he introduced the bill. "This change has reduced sales tax revenues to states, cities and towns that rely on this form of revenue to provide essential community services such as education, law enforcement, and fire fighting."
Last week's Chicago accord brings congressional action back into focus, although no legislation has been introduced.
Article 1, Section 9: ... No tax or duty shall be laid on Articles Exported from any state.
Section 10: No state shall without concent of congress lay any iposts od duties on imports or exports..
Not that anything in the constitution is safe to rely on these days
It's just a matter of time before they figure out how to tax internet transactions. So predictable ....
Senator Brian Dorgan.
Seems to me that States are getting tired of competing to attract such businesses to operate in their own borders, and are resorting to a classic "old boys" solution that will probably be less than effective and will trample the Constitution in the process - in spirit or in fact, or both.
Well .. except for necessities .. we could stage a protest - and not buy anything over the internet - when their taxes don't materialize - they might change their minds .. LOL!
Taxing my internet sales probably would not change my buying habits much. My local bookstores just don't maintain an adequate stock of computer books. They don't have much of a market here. Most of that business goes to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million.
The primary issue here is that my state isn't "losing" sales tax revenue when I buy a book online. That book sale happened online because the bricks & mortar stores didn't stock the book. Absent the online retailer, the money would never have been spent at all.
The employees of an online retailer are spending their income in the state where their employer (online retailer) is located. There are probably quite a few online retailers in any given state whose employees are spending money derived from buyers in another state. Laying taxes on these online retailers may actually cause a net reduction in economic activity. An unintended consequence of political greed. The politicians should welcome the influx of money that gets spent in their own local economy.
...It's just a matter of time before they figure out how to tax internet transactions. So predictable ....
It isn't hard to predict rain when you are already up to your ass in water, see clouds and lightening, hear thunder, and can smell it in the air.
You are so right. It's just a matter of time.
Hell, damn, and blast!
Ah yes, we must promote this bonanza to help maintain a government "for the people", "by the people".
What a mindful concept.....
I can only speculate that the costs incurred with the figgerin' will be a moot subject, only to be determined as part of the overall cost of government service provided to us all as a well deserved service.
Politicians have a better nose for taxes than sharks have for blood in the water.
Trying to police the taxation of internet transactions is a nightmare. Even if every transaction was labeled with a social security number, there would be a need to account for all the purchases made over a wide variety of online sellers to be certain that the tax was actually paid in every case. Every retailer would have to maintain a tax account with every state and report the sales on an ongoing basis. The states would be saddled with collecting a detailed account of sales tax paid by every taxpayer in the jurisdication. A truly gross thought. Not to mention the "big brother" aspect of recording every damn thing you actually purchase on the net.
Trying to show politicians what has been shown to be effective, time and time and time again, which is tax cuts, (forget government spending) generates a "super power" via financial freedom, but come lately, who wants to be free to give up their land and hard earned livelihood to the highest bidder in a free society as dictated by force via what's best for the "common good" via government protection.
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