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Amazon Fights Back Against NY Online Sales Tax

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the fighting-the-good-enough-fight dept.

Government 254

The New York Times is reporting on Amazon's lawsuit contesting the recently enacted New York state law which requires online retail outlets to collect sales tax on items sold to the state's residents. Amazon disagrees that it should be required to collect such tax without a physical presence in the state. We discussed the 'Amazon Tax' last month. Quoting: "The new law is based on a novel definition of what constitutes a presence in the state: It includes any Web site based in the state that earns a referral fee for sending customers to an online retailer. Amazon has hundreds of thousands of affiliates--from big publishers to tiny blogs--that feature links to its products. It says thousands of those have given an address in New York State, although it does not verify the addresses. The state law says that if even one of those affiliates is in New York, Amazon must collect sales tax on everything sold in the state, even if it is not sold through the affiliate."

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254 comments

I wonder if... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23272382)

I wonder if Amazon could just refuse to sell items to people in NY state, and additionally drop all affiliates there (or at least stop accepting new affiliates). I'm sure all those affiliates (bit and small) would make some racket to their state legislators if they were cut off.

Of course they'd never go that route, I think. It sure would be fun to watch, though. :P

Re:I wonder if... (4, Interesting)

SpiritualRemains (235040) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272388)

I believe the easiest option for Amazon would be to simply drop all affiliates in New York. Refusing to sell to New York is financial suicide for them, but dropping all affiliates wouldn't cause too much grief from the public.

Re:I wonder if... (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272852)

I believe the easiest option for Amazon would be to simply drop all affiliates in New York. Refusing to sell to New York is financial suicide for them, but dropping all affiliates wouldn't cause too much grief from the public.

Perhaps this is part of the motivation behind Amazon's Kindle [amazon.com] device. If you're not sending something through the mail to an address in a specific state, but instead providing an electronic file to someone without any physical merchandise involved, wouldn't that mean state tax laws were much less of an (enforceable) threat and the company would no longer fear states like New York?

Re:I wonder if... (2, Insightful)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272980)

"Services" are taxable under state laws. That would include e-files served to your Ipod or PC.

As a seller (on ebay and amazon), here is my argument against paying NY Sales Tax:
- I am not a resident of New York.
- Therefore I am not under the jurisdiction of that government (same as I am not under jurisdiction to France or Canada)
- Thus I am not an NY citizen; governments can not tax non-citizens.

So I owe the New York government absolutely nothing for my ebay/amazon sales, and I'd like to see them try to cross the border and come get me. I don't think Pennsylvania would accept NY soldiers/officers marching across its territory in order to reach me in Maryland. Neither the PA nor the MD government is going to stand for an invasion from the NY government.

So basically, the NY Tax Form is going in my Maryland trash can. (Along with any French or Canadian tax forms.) A foreign government can not tax non-residents. The NY government is foreign to this Maryland citizen, so the NY Legislators can go fuck themselves.

(Note that the same reasoning applies to Amazon - Amazon is a citizen of California(?) and therefore can not be taxed by foreign governments.)

Re:I wonder if... (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273032)

Services MAY be taxable under state laws, depending on the state. In VT, services are NOT taxable.

A state that is taxing a sale taking place in another state seems to violate the Interstate Commerce clause, at least that's my arm chair understanding. Couldn't it be argued that the sales tax is acting as a tarrif on imports from another state? Any real lawyers have any comments about this? Anyone know enough about the founders intent? They had postal services even 200 years ago... the concept hasn't changed.

Re:I wonder if... (1)

lloydchristmas759 (1105487) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273128)

- I am not a resident of New York.
- Therefore I am not under the jurisdiction of that government (same as I am not under jurisdiction to France or Canada)
- Thus I am not an NY citizen; governments can not tax non-citizens.
What is the relation between resident of New York and citizen of New York ?
I am a French citizen but I don't live in France (and never did).

And PLEASE stop comparing American states to countries: Canada != New York State. The United States are a country, like Canada, France or the Federated States of Micronesia.

Re:I wonder if... (2, Funny)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273486)

Well you've definitely got the French anal retentive thing going for you. Magnifique!

Re:I wonder if... (2, Interesting)

aplusjimages (939458) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273292)

Maybe you should start demanding that your tax money be used to benefit you. Got a pothole in your neighborhood, then call NY and require they fix it with the tax money you are paying them.

Re:I wonder if... (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273490)

So I owe the New York government absolutely nothing for my ebay/amazon sales, and I'd like to see them try to cross the border and come get me. I don't think Pennsylvania would accept NY soldiers/officers marching across its territory in order to reach me in Maryland.
Not that this is going to happen, but they could cut some of the web traffic going to your site, and they could force their local banks not to do business with you. There is plenty they can do within their own physical borders. It's just that under Federal law, many of those things would probably be illegal.

And if a rogue internal State did try to disobey Federal law, then the Federal government can indeed do many things to retaliate against it. It's written right there in the Constitution. If a State doesn't want to obey carpool laws, the Federal government can withhold the disbursement of its Federal highway funds. If a State tries to close down its borders to specific goods, the Federal government can carpet bomb its infrastructure, apply pressure on its most disenfranchised inhabitants to start a grassroots rebellion, and restore freedom, justice, purity, and democracy -- by installing a puppet government of its very own choosing.

Re:I wonder if... (1)

webgeek2point0 (1003266) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273588)

This is "taxation without representation." I ddid not have a say in this law that was just passed in NY. I did not elect that official. I did not have a chance to vote on that law, or even the chance to vote to repeal this unfair tax. I am not represented at all in the NY government.

This is the main argument as to why America was started. Wars have been fought over this. This is the cornerstone of our country. They cannot levy taxes on non-NY citizens.

Re:I wonder if... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273012)

I doubt it. Kindle is about making sure that they are a player in the electronic book field. They probably aren't all that certain about how popular electronic books are going to be, but they don't want to miss the boat.

They are contesting the tax decision because not charging their customers sales tax gives them a pricing advantage over local stores.

Re:I wonder if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23273318)

The best option for Amazon is to offer a New York portal and change the contract such that it is the affiliate or customer responsibility to go to correct place.

Best to fight it in the courts though otherwise all states will get this idea.

Re:I wonder if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23272406)

That was my first reaction, refuse to sell into NY. End of Story. I have a feeling Congress is itching to dip some kind of sales tax on the Internet however.

Re:I wonder if... (1)

archkittens (1272770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272938)

then amazon would have to refuse to sell to the whole united states, and ebay would have to follow close behind, along with buy.com. sooner or later, congress has once again caused the opposite of progress!

Re:I wonder if... (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272988)

Not Congress.

The New York Legislature. Which I'm sure the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually tell to "screw off" because the National Constitution (which NY signed) says only the U.S. may regulate commerce across borders. i.e. New York can't go taxing the Californian business known as amazon.

Re:I wonder if... (1)

archkittens (1272770) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273026)

AC said:

I have a feeling Congress is itching to dip some kind of sales tax on the Internet however.
and you said:

Not Congress. The New York Legislature.

and my bet is that both want to, and only the NY legislature was stupid enough to overstep it's authority and make a move that will damage American commerce. IF the united states congress, mentioned by the AC to whom i responded, were to take that step, large online retailers, the ones with all the money and clout, would throw a fit and we'd end up hearing about it more.

whether that hearing about it would be of bans on selling to customers outside of california, or amazon just establishing presences in other countries (ebay already has, not sure about amazon), congress would actively be obstructing the progress of the american economy, again. god knows new york is already trying it's best

Re:I wonder if... (1)

synnthetic (103582) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273062)

I agree. Amazon is large enough to use force. My small little website isn't. I have enough fun collecting tax in my own state.

In a realted development, Amazon to lose NYers. (2, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272390)

Doesn't the antidote to this seem clearer than day on this one? All Amazon has to do is ban publishers with payment addresses in NY... those big enough to care can simply reincorperate in a more tax-friendly state, those small enough not to matter will simply just go away.

Re:In a realted development, Amazon to lose NYers. (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272564)

That is right with one thing missing.

As dropping those affiliates WILL cause some financial hardship, look for any problems with the law and sue to get it put down.

If that doesn't work, then go the banning route.

Re:In a realted development, Amazon to lose NYers. (1)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272772)

That is right with one thing missing.

As dropping those affiliates WILL cause some financial hardship, look for any problems with the law and sue to get it put down.

If that doesn't work, then go the banning route.

If I were CEO of Amazon, I would ban affiliates because it would impact New Yorkers. If I as a resident of Indiana write to a state congressman in New York protesting this law, they won't care because I am not there. If the NY residents complain, it will carry far more impact.

Secondly, litigation costs money. If the residents of NY that are impacted convince the state government to change the law, Amazon will not have to pay a penny. Any legal expense is indirectly taken on by the affiliates.

Re:In a realted development, Amazon to lose NYers. (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272946)

Secondly, litigation costs money. If the residents of NY that are impacted convince the state government to change the law, Amazon will not have to pay a penny.
Except through lost sales and developer time because they'd have to update their systems to say "Oh, you're based in NY? Sorry, can't affiliate with you."

Re:In a realted development, Amazon to lose NYers. (1)

Zippy_wonderslug (990892) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272572)

It is even simpler than that. There is a Use Tax form that many states have. The buyer of the goods is legally required to report purchases that have not been taxed, and pay those taxes at the time of filing state or local income tax. If the purchaser does not file the form and pay the tax, they are in the wrong. Hold someone accountable for their own actions, do not implement something that does not work in a marketplace with the size of Amazon's.

The parts that offends me is (5, Insightful)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272638)

Firstly
The question is whether the vendors must collect those taxes on behalf of the state. Generally, only those companies that have a physical presence, such as an office or store, in the state of the purchase are required to collect the taxes.
By have a physical presence in NY, I'm deriving benefits from the state; Amazon without a physical presence in NY receives no state benefits and should not have to work as the states agent withput consideration.
Secondly
Amazon's legal obligations are dependent on the actions of a third party over which it has no contract or control. It would be like the county tax assessor telling your your property taxes will increase 25% on sunny days!
Thirdly
NY is the poster child for it's mishmash of sales tax laws, my understanding is that you can be liable for state, county, and municipal sales taxes in some places of NY, the chief obstruction to a coherrent, unified national state sales tax system is NY

Re:The parts that offends me is (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272866)

...
Thirdly
NY is the poster child for it's mishmash of sales tax laws, my understanding is that you can be liable for state, county, and municipal sales taxes in some places of NY, the chief obstruction to a coherrent, unified national state sales tax system is NY
NC works the same way in that there is a state tax + count + city.. (atleast that is the option) 99.999999~% of citys all use the same sales tax and i have only ever seen it where the city or county would lower or not charge theirs for a short time.. (that is what the used to do in some areas for back to school time before the whole state agreed one one weekend where all school supplys are tax free)

NY just likes to abuse it.. i am sure there are others states that have the same laws on the books and can do the same thing.. NY just wants to rape anyone and everyone.. (remember the arguments going on about them charging income tax on out of state employees that have never even been to NY)

personaly what i think needs to happen with this is have Amazon track and charge the NY tax via the NY resellers - it really is the reseller/affiliates that are responseable for charging the tax and paing NY.. not amazon.. just because amazon provides nice easy tools to have the affiliate not have to deal with all the transactions doesn't mean it isn't the resellers fault..

a close example is websites that use say verisign for CC transactions - and then have orders drop shipped from supplyers.. it is still that websites owner who is responsable for obeying tax laws.. not verisign or the suppliers..

this isn't an amazon problem.. this is a affilate problem.. (all so a good bit of NY needs to get it's head of it's ass problem too)

(sorry if the spelling is bad right now going on 33 hours for today)

Re:The parts that offends me is (2, Funny)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273020)

I agree that NY is full of sh*t .... I believe that this is the same state that applied a tax law for a vehicle that consumed too much gas, the turned around and applied a tax for a vehicle that took not enough gas, and it is only a matter of time before they come up with a tax for a vehicle sitting in the driveway too long....

Tax Auditor: "I see you work from home, but you own a car ..."
Person: "Yes...i don't have to drive to work, as I work from home."
Tax Auditor: "I see, I see, well that means you are privy to the new tax law..."
Person: "Which one is that?"
Tax Auditor: "The one for not driving your car at all, we are losing money on you.. ....we have to make up that money some how..."
Person: 'thinks' Did i remember to hide my motorcycle 'end thinks'

If they dump NY retailers, they lose the battle (1)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272712)

If Amazon gives in by banning NY retailers, they will lose the battle as other states pass similar provisions. They can't ban every state, and every state wants a cut of the pie.

As a New Yorker, I'm offended by what (legally) appears to be an unconstitutional money grab. The problem is that very, very few people declare excise tax, and if they do it is typically for under $100 in goods.

Re:If they dump NY retailers, they lose the battle (1)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272802)

If Amazon gives in by banning NY retailers, they will lose the battle as other states pass similar provisions. They can't ban every state, and every state wants a cut of the pie.
Although they can't ban every state, would you want to risk that your state not get a piece of a pie. It might not be "the" pie, but a piece.

Probably most of the money that affiliates make is not taxed/reported, but the larger affiliates are paying income taxes on their commisions. Second, even the money that is brought into the state/locality that is not taxed, a large percentage is probably being spent locally on food/clothing/gas and is generating sales tax.

If Amazon banned New York, held firm, it would send a message to other states and the affiliates in those states to not pass this kind of law.

Don't forget ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23272416)

... to pay your $699 smoking-cock fee you licensing bag tea-ers [twofo.co.uk] .

Re:Don't forget ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23272764)

I wore a cock ring while some dude with a goatee smoked my pole last night. I offered him $10 but he said it was FREE as in speech, not beer, whatever that meant. Then this fat guy in a cowboy hat and crotchless chaps came in and said "Hey Taco, your wife is looking for you." Very weird.

--it can be a fun, zesty enterprise

A few thoughts... (2, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272426)

Congress needs to act, since this is an interstate issue.

I don't think New York has the authority to do this. But I sure would like to see the supreme Court act.

One problem with sales tax is the complexity of the code. What states need to do is to create an out-of-state seller tax rate, which retailers could voluntarily choose to pay (instead of trying to figure out the specific taxing locale). It might be equal to the highest taxing rate in the state, and would be paid to the state with no locale attached to the revenue sent there. Then the state would divide the revenue up amongst their localities based on some sort of formula (perhaps based on in-state sales, for example, for percentages).

Re:A few thoughts... (4, Interesting)

kamochan (883582) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272474)

And this would scale to global customers, how exactly? Chinese or Swedish or maybe Australian buyers paying average-US-state sales tax on their purchases?

If something like this (the NY solution, or parent's) gets implemented for real, then online vendors will simply move out of the US to the land of the (tax-)free.

It's internet commerce. Any solution needs to be globally viable, or it will be doomed to silliness. This is also why it's going to be darn difficult to solve.

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272656)

Over here in Europe it's pretty common having to pay your country's VAT (plus customs fees) for imported goods. The same would work for offshore retailers sending goods to the US.

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272960)

Over here in Europe it's pretty common having to pay your country's VAT (plus customs fees) for imported goods. The same would work for offshore retailers sending goods to the US.
Except the US has a very different tax system to most of Europe. The closest they have is something called "Sales Tax", and that varies from state to state. (As I understand it, it's also only levied on goods sold within the state, not goods brought in from another state or, for that matter, another country).

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273096)

Except the US has a very different tax system to most of Europe. The closest they have is something called "Sales Tax", and that varies from state to state. (As I understand it, it's also only levied on goods sold within the state, not goods brought in from another state or, for that matter, another country).

Very true. Other differences between sales tax and my understanding of VAT;

*It's only levied on final sale - if a middleman has a federal tax ID as a reseller, he pays no sales tax.

*Similarly, it does not apply to transporting goods between states lines. In fact, that is a very old law, that states can't collect duties on goods transported between them. That law is part of the issue here, since states can't tax commerce outside their jurisdiction.

*I do believe the US collects import tarriffs as other countries do, but as you point out that is completely separate from sales tax. i don't even think the individual states would have the authority to put taxes on imports.

*As pointed out elsewhere, jurisdictions at all levels enact different sales taxes, not just states. The county can do it, as can cities. Also, there are often exceptions for food and other necessary items, or reduced rates. You can see why no retailer wants to have to deal with all that.

As a matter of law, I'm guessing (as a layperson) that the state has no leg to stand on. They don't have a legal right to tax businesses that have no presence in the state, and I'm guessing their legal theory about referrals is total bunk. Just because you get a referral from someone in New York doesn't mean you have a presence in New York.

Re:A few thoughts... (2, Interesting)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273600)

The state isn't taxing Amazon, though. They're requiring Amazon to collect taxes owed by Amazon's customers on behalf of the state. This is how all point-of-sale-collected sales tax works: its not owed by the retailer, but by the consumer, and collected by the retailer both as a convenience (no reporting/payment burden remains) and because consumers have proven remarkably unlikely to actually report and pay the tax themselves. If it wasn't for this, the only actual way to enforce a sales tax would be to require the consumer to identify themselves to the retailer and have their purchase history reported to the state - and we really don't want to go there, do we?

Of course, you can argue the fairness of a sales tax as well (its possibly one of the most regressive forms of taxation ever introduced), but it is the law in most of the US.

Re:A few thoughts... (4, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272674)

Shipping through customs is going to be a lot worse than most sales taxes.

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

SkyDude (919251) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272718)

Difficult to solve? How so?

I've worked in a company that used to sell via the internet (and postal mail before that). It was never a big issue before the internet, but the states are imagining millions going uncollected and that gives the money-loving pols a severe case of agita. [medterms.com]

From a programming perspective, how hard is it to examine a couple of fields - country, state and zip code. All of the tax data resides in a table. The table is populated from data supplied via a subscription service - like now. That's how tax information is made available to businesses that need to keep up with changes for payroll and other uses.

This isn't a question of how it can be done, it's a political question of why it needs to be done.

Here's a novel solution - do away with all sales taxes - or local income taxes. In the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts, we have both here. Some states have one or the other.

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273392)

> From a programming perspective, how hard is it to examine a couple of fields - country, state and zip code. All of the tax data resides in a table.

Not quite. Remember, zipcodes don't necessarily align with the boundaries of tax authorities. I live in the City of Pembroke Pines, Florida... but technically, my zipcode and official mailing address is the CIty of Hollywood, Florida. Someone going by zipcode would assume I'm within the jurisdiction of Hollywood, not Pembroke Pines.

Wait. It gets worse. I can't name a specific zipcode, but I know there are at least a few in the Florida panhandle where people who physically live in Florida have zipcodes associated with Georgia or Alabama (or vice-versa), because the post office that serves them is on the other side of the state line.

And like others have pointed out, it's hard enough to keep track of what's taxable, and at what rate, in the specific jurisdiction where your store is physically located. Expecting someone to be able to figure out which jurisdiction(s) apply, and what the final tax rate is under the collective rules that apply within that jurisdiction, imposes an unreasonable burden.

Plus, even if you've figured out the percentage, it's not necessarily consistent. For example, in Miami-Dade County, the sales tax is 7%... except it's really 6% with two 1/2% surtaxes on the first $5,000 of purchases made within the county. Or maybe it's 6 1/2% with one 1/2% surtax on the first $5,000 of purchases. I'm not entirely sure, and I LIVED in that damn county for almost half my life before fleeing to the Promised Land (Broward County) a few weeks ago. Trying to keep track of niggling details like this would be a MAJOR challenge for big internet vendors like Amazon, and point-blank impossible (or at least require expensive assistance from a third party) for smaller companies.

Re:A few thoughts... (2, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272934)

This is also why it's going to be darn difficult to solve.


Not difficult to solve at all. No taxation on goods sold over the internet. Done. See? Wasn't that easy?

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

realmaestro (213933) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273084)

Actually, it means if you live in NY you would pay the tax and if you didn't you wouldn't.

This is how online stores already operate, and is why if you live in the same state as the retailer has its physical presence, you have to pay the state taxes.

Other states, such as Virginia for instance, require you to pay state sales tax on any Internet purchase you made that you didn't pay *any* sales tax on -- i.e., if you bought from amazon you have to report it and pay Virginia state sales tax on it.

Why this new NY law is controversial is because Amazon has no physical presence in NY, and NY is targeting a successful company to reap more revenue for its failed social programs.

This my friends is why I'm libertarian, keep the government away from successful business. If I were Amazon I'd say sorry, I'm no longer selling to NY customers (see how fast that law gets repealed). But that would be a bad decision, paying lawyers to get this ridiculous law overturned is much more cost effective than not selling to the state of NY.

I love government and politics. Always in the best interests of everyone.

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273170)

This is also why it's going to be darn difficult to solve.

no it's not. Step 1 - find and beat silly every person in charge of tax codes for that state. Lock them in a public stockade and sell rotten food to passers by to throw at the scumbags until they get the point.

Step 2 - While the scumbags are under arrest, elect sane and honest representatives, repeal the stupid laws and enact sane laws.

This is actually quite simple. Problem is in order to do it the tasks require getting people off their asses and doing something. Which tends to be impossible here in the States.

USAians are inherently lazy. as long we they have our cable TV and malt liquor, we all are a happy bunch of blobs.

Take our freedoms, but bring me more cheetos.

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273296)

"Australian buyers"

Until about a decade ago Australia was like the US, each state had a dart board to see how much sales tax was due on a purchase depending what it was that you were purchasing and random interstate companies were often dragged into court for "avoiding sales tax". This was eliminated in a deal between the states and the federal government and was replaced by an across the board 10% GST on all sales regardless of wether they are wholesale or retail.

Companies get charged GST for all purchases and in turn are required to collect GST on all sales, service sales and purchases are also included. At the end of the quarter/year you fill out a "one page form"(*) to both collect a rebate for GST on inputs and pay the GST on sales, theoretically it all balances for companies and the consumer ends up paying the GST because they can't claim the input credit.

The scheme is simple for companies and easy for consumers to work out how much tax they are paying. There are a few exeptions on certain classes of goods where the tax is either higher or lower, but the list of exemptions is tiny. The most contraversial exemption over here is the 38% excise on petrol that has been with us since the oil crisis in the 70's. No GST is collected on rent or real estate.

Any goods sold over the net or via catalogs by an Australian company can escape the GST. Goods sold over the net from companies outside Oz (eg: Amazon) are not subject to GST, rather the goods attract an import duty that is collected at the warf or airport that theoretically compensates for any advantage gained by not paying the GST. Goods exported from the country do not attract GST and are thus still competitive on the international market and bring money into the country.

"This is also why it's going to be darn difficult to solve."

Regardless of ones view on sales tax and state rights the only real difficulty here is political. If Amazon is forced to start jumping through hoops by various governments around the globe it will be to the benifit of Aussie book stores, which by the way are still very popular over here despite all the gloom and doom predicted when the GST was being debated.

(*) The "one page form" comes with a 150 page instruction book, after all said a done it's still run by bureaucrats.

Errata.... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273378)

Any goods sold over the net or via catalogs by an Australian company can not escape the GST.

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272502)

>I don't think New York has the authority to
>do this. But I sure would like to see the
>supreme Court act.

That seems iffy to me. Most of the goods I purchase at a store aren't from in state, but I still pay sales tax on them.

Just because Amazon's store is online, doesn't mean that they shouldn't have to pay the same sales tax everyone else does.

I live in Washington state, in Seattle, the same city where Amazon is based, and I already pay state sales taxes on Amazon goods.

Maybe there is some legal loophole that prevents states from raising taxes in these situation, but it seems like a loophole that should be closed. This isn't a interstate tariff we're talking about here.

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272570)

Maybe there is some legal loophole that prevents states from raising taxes in these situation, but it seems like a loophole that should be closed. This isn't a interstate tariff we're talking about here.

I think Amazon's argument is that it is an interstate tariff (in that it's is both a tariff, and levied on interstate commerce). If they're right, then the loophole is part of the US constitution, although if I understand it, Congress would be able to permit states to levy taxes

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272774)

Taxation without representation.

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272910)

the issue is (as larry put it) Taxation without repersentation.

i live in NC.. if i sell something to someone next to me i have to charge my states sales tax.. that tax goes to fund my local/state government and provide me services such as police/fire/school/crap roads.. but if i sell to someone from NY over the phone (while they are in NY and i am in NC) then it is an interstate traffic.

that person (from NY) is responsiable for paying his local sales tax - i am not responsiable for collecting it and then sending it to NY.. that is his job as he is the one there..

any tax that would be added and requres the seller to collect would be an interstate tariff and that is the feds job not the states..

it isn't a legal loophole.. it is how taxes work.. NY is trying to say that because Amazon has affiliates (other companies that sell there goods) in NY that it means amazon has a pressence in NY and there for has to charge the tax.. but if that is true then amazon would also be required to file taxes there to (other than sales tax). it is nonsence that they would do this.. it would be akin to when i buy a car at a dealer that he doesn't have in stock and they have it shipped directly to me from detroit - that the auto maker would have to charge the sales tax and deal with it - when in all reality the local dealer should be the one doing that.

Amazon needs to point it's finger at the affiliates.. it really is their responsiability as companies in NY to charge sales tax to NY resedents and to file that with the NY government..

(pardon the spelling.. no sleep for a long time)

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272512)

It would be easier just to allow the state the entity is shipping from to collect a sales tax, a closer parallel to the idea that you pay a sales tax to whatever state you (and the seller) are in when you purchase something in meatspace. Tracking sales taxes for all your buyers' states (and sometimes counties) is cumbersome, this is a far simplier option. And while it means NY doesn't get a sales tax immediately, it closes the loophole where no one pays a sales tax, a problem with all but a handful of states generate a significant part of their revenue from such a tax.

Ultimately this means the silly shell games that distributors do to avoid having to charge sales taxes ends, and larger retailers will set up shipping warehouses in more states (i.e. New York) to better serve their customers with the disincentive to do so removed.

Re:A few thoughts... (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272580)

That would still create problems.

The state, in which the product originated (or where the business is headquartered), would want to collect sales tax.

The state, in which the buyer is located, would want to collect sales tax on the item shipped to one of their residents.

Ideally, I feel property taxes should deal with the origination, whereas sales tax should deal with the destination of a product.

Also, in some states, if a buyer purchases something, and no sales tax is collected, sales tax is still due, and the buyer must file taxes with their own state department of revenue.

Also, some states have laws where if someone goes out of state, buys a product, and brings it back within so many days (if I am not mistaken), sales tax is due on the difference paid. For example, if 8% were paid in another state, and the buyer brings it back to their home state (where tax is 10%), then 2% tax is due on the item, and the buyer must pay it to their home state's department of revenue.

As for foreign countries, well, there isn't anything we can do, as they are out of America's jurisdiction. Outsourcing is a problem, but there isn't much we can do about it other than perhaps tariffs on items being shipped to Americans. (Perhaps a general 5% tariff on non-food items, to be collected, then redistributed to the states based on their total instate tax revenue collections (just used for the formula only).)

I am sleepy right now, and my grammar and thought processes may be way off. Sorry for that.

Re:A few thoughts... (0)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272996)

Tracking sales taxes for all your buyers' states (and sometimes counties) is cumbersome,

Amazon pioneered the technology to track millions of individual orders and warehouse management and shipping schedules, and it can't keep a table of 50 sales tax entries? Come on! It already has the field to collect taxes for the state of Washington. Just add a table instead of a constant value... It can be done trivially.

Re:A few thoughts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23273282)

You're an idiot. Take a look at some sales tax code - or just pay attention to other posts in these types of threads. There's a LOT more than 50 entries. Not to mention keeping up with legislation in every jurisdiction for changes, exemptions, different sales taxes on different types of items, etc.

NY Could Sue For Buyer's Addresses (2, Interesting)

stupidflanders (1230894) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272480)

It was already a law that residents had to pay sales tax on out of state items. But with no real way for the state to enforce it, most taxpayers are not going to bother.

Also, per resident this is a very small amount, which makes it almost silly to bother reporting on your state tax return. According to the first article, "The provision is meant to contribute about $50 million to the $122 billion budget [nytimes.com] " In 2006, the population of NY state was 19,306,183 [census.gov] . By those numbers, each resident would be paying an average of $2.59. In NY, sales tax is different IN EACH COUNTY! [earthodyssey.com] (Statewide it varies between 7% and 9%). This means that a $24.95 book would have $1.74-$2.24 tax owed to NY state. Who would bother? Granted, some people order hundreds of dollars worth or merchandise off of Amazon, so it would be higher for some people, that's not the point. Obviously, not many people pay their share, which is why the greedy politicians passed this law.

One HIGHLY invasive option is for the state of New York to sue Amazon and force them to hand over the addresses of NY residents. Heck, they could probably even sue for the entire purchase history per year, per account. I am not sure that New York could enforce it even then, though. What are they going to do, knock on each Amazon shoppers door and threaten to take them to take them to jail if they don't pay two bucks?

(I am not saying that this is a GOOD option, but since it was already a law, I am surprised that the state of NY did not try to get their grubby mitts on taxpayers money this way. Bring on the flames...)

Hopefully Amazon will win this.

Re:NY Could Sue For Buyer's Addresses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23272520)

Sales tax is a tax on the income of business, not the purchaser. We already pay taxes on our income (which is what we report each year).

The government, state of federal should never go after the consumer for sales tax.

Originally, it was illegal to hike prices to account for this tax, but corporations stomped that hard.

Re:NY Could Sue For Buyer's Addresses (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272842)

No.... Companies pay income tax on any profits, but sales tax is just delegation of tax collection authority to companies. Spend a couple minutes thinking it over and you'll realize that company taxes are a cost of business that are passed on (and paid for) by consumers -- something 2 presidential candidates don't seem to realize.

Re:NY Could Sue For Buyer's Addresses (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272708)

Technically it the USE portion of the sales-use taxes that would be collected by Amazon, so here's a delema, My mother in NY loves books so I buy her one for her birthday from California and have Amazon ship it to her in NY, so who pays the use tax to NY?

Re:NY Could Sue For Buyer's Addresses (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273314)

You're really confused, buyers pay the tax at the time of purchase. It is tacked on to their final sum based off of either their billing or shipping address. You don't have to keep track of what you bought and claim that at the end of the year, unless you're a non-profit or buying things for business use.

The Free Ride is coming to an End (1, Insightful)

FurryOne (618961) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272504)

It's time people faced the fact that they should be paying taxes on their internet purchases like anything else they buy. I don't want to, but I know I should. Taxes go towards all services you receive from your State, and when you don't pay them, they have to be made up another way. It's the irony of robbing Peter to pay Paul - People that avoid paying taxes are actually stealing from everyone else in the State that now has to make up for the shortfall. Like it or not, it all comes down to one word - GREED. It's the only thing that's been driving the US for the last 12 years and more - And it's the reason the US has sunk to the status of a 2nd rate Nation (I'd use "Banana Republic" but we don't grow enough bananas here.) I'm sure we'll see hundreds of posts here on how this or that is illegal or unconstitutional, but like I said - it still all boils down to GREED - gimme, gimme, gimme - In money we trust!

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (2, Informative)

doyoulikeworms (1094003) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272540)

The greed of the State.

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (1)

FurryOne (618961) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272574)

The greed of the State.
A "State" isn't a person - it's a thing.

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23272688)

I'm not sure if your comment is supposed to be rebuttal, but frankly, you're basically coming across as a fucking idiot.

Further, it's not greed to fail to pay taxes. You mistakenly conflate tax payments with state services--the state does many things with the money I pay them, only a handful of which result in service being rendered to me, or even any service rendered at all.

And while a "State" is a thing, so are people. Both can be greedy (obviously, on its face).

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272558)

Wow! You're so right, and so completely ethical! How can I help but be inspired by your rectitude? Lucky for us that huge corporations don't pull that kind of shit, or we'd be losing BILLIONS of dollars, not just a million or two here and there.

Oh, wait...

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23272560)

And it also gives web shops an unfair advantage. Why should there be any difference if my product is bought from Amazon or my local book store?

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23272740)

Sales tax is a tax on business income which is often passed directly to the consumer. The reason there should be a difference if your product is bought from Amazon is because Amazon is not necessarily a citizen or member of your State while your local book store probably is. This means Amazon is not a party to your State's laws, had no role in their creation (read: no taxation without representation), and exists outside the juristictional limits of your State's authority.

This last bit is really the most important point--even in 1780, lawmakers recognized that the individual State's authority had to be circumscribed to an extent and prohibited regulation of interstate commerce by the various States--this is a regulatory power primarily retained by federal bureacratic bodies even today.

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (3, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272600)

If you want to talk about greed, let's talk about the state legislatures and localities that have an insatiable appetite for raising taxes. That's their solution to every fiscal shortfall. They seem to be unable to grasp the concept of "living within your means". Not satisfied with what they can extract from their own citizens, they want to force out-of-state businesses to do their dirty work for them. As far as I am concerned, they can all go to hell.

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272940)

Problem is not that the Govt will tax, tax, tax and then tax some more. The problem is people want the Govt to spend, spend, spend and spend some more. Not a single person posting here about the money grubbing pols, and the greedy Govt will say one service he/she is willing to sacrifice.

The right way to control taxes is by voting for politicians who will cut services and spending. But that is hard. Every pol has a home constituency and will protect the govt spending in that sector. With no reduction in spending, there is no real easy solution. If you don't like tax-and-spend pols and vote for borrow-and-spend pols, what you are going to get? Inflation. Eventually you will pay. Either as a tax to the Government or as erosion of value of your savings and earning to inflation.

In a Democracy when people abdicate their responsibility and vote themselves more and more benefits without providing a way to pay for it, they will lose it one way or another. Starve-the-beast is a sound bite. It does not work.

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273060)

That's completely irrelevant to this argument.

People talk about how they want ______, ______, and _____, but don't want to pay taxes.

Then they refuse to play any sort of participatory role in their government, but continue to bitch about how it's become corrupt.

And for the record, a big part of the fiscal shortfalls being faced by many states is due to the fact that sales tax revenues have fallen proportionally to the rise in internet sales.

Stop making crap up (1)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273196)

The fiscal shortfall in most states is brought about because programs are set up with reoccurring costs in good years. When the economy does poorly, revenues decreases primarily because (a) house prices fall, reducing real-estate taxes (b) less people are employed, reducing income taxes (c) yes, sales tax, but it is relatively minor compared to a & b.

Also, every state indexes their programs so there are automatic increases built into every agency and program.

Do you see the issue here?

It's not sales tax as such, it's an unrealistic attitude of government and the people they "serve".

Also Sales Tax is amongst the most regressive tax. It would make a whole lot more sense to raise income taxes and this issue goes away. But government is addicted to raising taxes like this.

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272792)

People that avoid paying taxes are actually stealing from everyone else in the State that now has to make up for the shortfall. Like it or not, it all comes down to one word - GREED.
I'm sure we'll see hundreds of posts here on how this or that is illegal or unconstitutional, but like I said - it still all boils down to GREED - gimme, gimme, gimme - In money we trust!
Some would say that it is unconstitional and a violation of the 13th Amendment [wikipedia.org] against Slavery [wikipedia.org] .

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272864)

But who's taxes?

Where is Amazon.... It's a global company
Where are their affiliates ... global
Where are their customers ... global

They already pay taxes on what they buy to re-sell they already pay company taxes etc ... they have no physical presence in NY so what are they paying taxes to NY for? what do they get back ... nothing?

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (1)

lyonsden (543685) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273042)

They already pay taxes on what they buy to re-sell

Actually, resellers do not have to pay taxes on stuff they purchase to sell to someone else. I think the idea is that sales tax should only be paid on an item once, by the final purchaser.

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (1)

OutSourcingIsTreason (734571) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273148)

they have no physical presence in NY so what are they paying taxes to NY for? what do they get back ... nothing?
New York sales tax pays for schools. Amazon sells books. I'm sensing a connection here.

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (2, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272878)

Though I grew up in the U.S., I now live in Finland, where the state actually provides services in exchange for high taxation: excellent public transportation, generous unemployment and retirement, a monthly living allowance to students, free university education, a flourishing arts scene, and so forth. Paying taxes here is actually attractive. In the U.S., where people feel increasingly out of touch with their government, suspicious of the ability of police to actually do their job, and can't count on Social Security, I can understand the grumbles.

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272952)

Like it or not, it all comes down to one word - GREED. It's the only thing that's been driving the US for the last 12 years and more - And it's the reason the US has sunk to the status of a 2nd rate Nation ...

Personal polemics and random capitalisation aside, my understanding of the reason for the absence of a coherent tax policy is that Clinton signed into law legislation that exempted the internet (in the days when Al Gore was busy inventing it) from the kind of mucking about that the State of New York is now doing. At the time it was argued (and subsequently proved) that, as a policy matter, doing so would spur use of the intarwebs.

Now my knowledge of tax law is next to nil (my eyes glaze over at the mention of anything to do with it), but if my interpretation of the issue is correct, then I'd suggest the only "greed" involved here is that of the State of New York.

That local and state governments routinely seek creative or novel ways to increase their revenues should come as no surprise to anyone. And that U.S. citizens, in general, have a philosophical aversion to to taxation of any form is similarly true. That said, I'd like to think the issue could be discussed without injecting politics into a subject that has broad ramifications.

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273064)

The success of commerce on the internet doesn't prove that taxing the internet would be bad policy. It demonstrates that the internet can do well in the absence of taxation, but it doesn't demonstrate that it would do poorly in the presence of taxes.

That said, I don't really see the point, most states have a use tax that is highly forgiving and barely enforced (mostly, I think it is useful when auditing someone who buys a boat or a jet or something, 6% of $100,000 is worth a lot more of the states time than 6% of $100)

Re:The Free Ride is coming to an End (2, Informative)

dlcarrol (712729) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272984)

Give me a break.

Yes, I live in NC and yes, I benefit from the things that are built with state tax money. This "should" language you keep using is anathema to me, though. What should happen is that they don't take money from me except for what I elect to do. Yes, they have the authority to do it otherwise, but not robbing me for things I don't use is the should.

Greed is wanting more when you have enough; I grant that this is subjective, but "enough" is not determined by well-intentioned tax assessors. Keeping what is already mine is not greed, my friend. That you (and others) have accepted that way of thinking is why the only solid economic progress happens in spite of you

NY dialing 411 for AMZN (1)

harvey the nerd (582806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272548)

Just another unconstitutional NY state grab for out-of-state businesses' $ to get more coke and "entertainment" money. Apparently prices are going up there, too. If NY "wins" anything, it will be interesting to see if AMZN shows them the doghouse.

Re:NY dialing 411 for AMZN (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273348)

Hey, hookers cost money, Spitzer spent over $15,000 on one, $1000/hour, who do you think is going to pay for that?

Better than the alternative (2, Interesting)

Count_Froggy (781541) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272642)

This is simply a jurisdiction (State, County or City) trying to make tax collection easier for themselves. I don't know of any jurisdiction with a Sales Tax that doesn't already have a corresponding Use tax, which is intended to tax anything that was purchased from out of Jurisdiction. Unfortunately, collecting that Use tax is difficult with the number of possible filers and the jurisdiction's desire to verify that the filers aren't under-reporting. Generally, they have dealt with this by going after businesses and big-ticket items like cars, boats, and airplanes. But, governments are getting greedier. If they can't get the online retailers to collect the taxes for them, the next option for them is to go after the banking industry to collect enforcement data. They will simply require banks to collect information on the items purchased so they can collect the Use tax based on that information. In pre-computer days, that would have been impossible given the volume of data, but today, it is clearly possible. Especially if you realize that any internet purchasing goes through some kind of bank or payment service (Paypal). I don't want that much 'Big Brother' looking over my shoulder; I'd rather pay sales tax via the retailer who simply can report it by category, not item.

New York has a problem (2, Insightful)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272660)

It's called the Constitution of the United States.

In section 10...

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

And when we look back to section 9...

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

Now I'm no constitutional scholar - but I interpret the above to mean the states can't tax each other's exports. This will be challenged and it will end up in the Supreme Court.

Re:New York has a problem (1)

dwayrynen (304160) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272962)

Not to support NY's new tax plan, but I do not think they are taxing exports from another state - sales taxes are a "use tax" and as such NY is taxing their residents for using products that are sold there...

Even if sales tax is not collected, most states with sales tax require their residents to declare items they bought and did not pay sales tax on so that they can pay a use tax...

How would the state enforce it anyway? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272706)

NY state: "Give us our tax!"

Amazon: "No , what you going to do about it, we're outside your juridisction!"

NY state: "errr.... please give us our tax?"

Re:How would the state enforce it anyway? (1)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272744)

Apparently the state wants to sue Amazon. NY is arguing that having affiliates (in links) that live in NY constitutes a physical precense in the state. Amazon counters that it's overly broad, unconstitutional, and hard to enforce reliably.

They wants it... (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272736)

The New York State Legislature never met a dollar they didn't want to tax. I've already complained to my State Senator.

Re:They wants it... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272974)

So enlighten us, about what specific service that should be cut. It is easy to say, "I don't want to pay tax". It is far harder to identify the government spending that should be cut. If you don't get the spending down, refusing to pay taxes will just mean you will pay in other ways. Like inflation, unmaintained roads, slower snow clearance, longer waits through the security lines, worse schools.

Get down to brass tacks and mention one service that you get from the state that you are willing to sacrifice to keep the spending down. Or you think every benefit you get is well deserved and ALL the government waste in the services other people are getting.

Re:They wants it... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273142)

I'd be happy to give up the rather wanton enforcement of drug laws that exists in most states. I don't even use anything illicit, but I can see where taking away people's cars and sticking them in jail for $30 of marijuana(or $300, whatever) is a waste of time, jail spending, and pretty much only serves to push the 'criminal' out of participating in society(because it's hard to keep a job when you gotta sit for 60 days and walk out with no car, that leads to further desperation). I'm not proposing that it is okay that the law is being broken, but that the frequency with which it happens suggests that the law may be broken.

There are good reasons to treat the use of hard drugs as a problem, but the current 'solution' is a joke. It would be cheaper to regulate and sell meth at pharmacies than it is to shut down meth labs, and then there wouldn't be skeavy people setting up meth labs, and there would be a handy list of people to target with social outreach programs. Taxing cocaine would raise revenues, and I'm pretty sure that "it's illegal" isn't the first reason that most people choose not to use it("it's expensive" and "holy shit that shit fucks with people" are probably quite a bit higher; those go double for heroin).

Re:They wants it... (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273472)

Bullshit, have you ever lived in NYS? The current climate of screwing the populace for the benefit of the pols started under Rockefellar in the '60's and has continued ever since. The result is NYS losing businesses and population. The pols response is to increase taxes because they've decimated the tax base. The pols build in interlocking services and entitlements so when expenses outstrip revenue, they claim nothing can be cut using the same fucking argument you just gave. To cut any one service is going to look like throwing pregnant mothers out into the snow, the pols were very careful to build the system that way.

Gerry

Why not just ignore it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23272766)

Title says it all - why couldn't amazon just ignore all this? If they haven't got a presence in NY, then what's the big deal?

Different states do have different laws, and what's legal in one might not be legal in another. However, as long as you don't venture into a state where what you're doing is illegal, you're not going to be affected by it, so... again, why doesn't amazon just ignore this altogether?

Misleading commentary (2, Interesting)

Eevee (535658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272810)

The new law is based on a novel definition of what constitutes a presence in the state: It includes any Web site based in the state that earns a referral fee for sending customers to an online retailer.

It's not novel. In Zippo v. Zippo 952 F. Supp. 1119, the Court found Pennsylvania had jurisdiction over Zippo.com, a California-based company, over the fact it engaged in electronic commerce with 3,000 individuals and 7 ISPs located in Pennsylvania. In this case, Amazon is engaged in electronic commerce with numerous companies, via the referral fee, based out of New York--thus New York should have the same jurisdiction rights as Pennsylvania did.

Re:Misleading commentary (1)

JeepFanatic (993244) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273004)

Are you sure the case you mention didn't have anything to do with the fact that Zippo lighters are made in Pennsylvania - hence giving them a physical presence in the state?

To be clear. (1)

Eevee (535658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273298)

Actually, that's the point. Zippo Manufacturing, the ones who make the lighters, is located in Pennsylvania. Zippo.com, a totally unrelated firm that among other things provided news feeds, is located in California. The lighter company wanted to bring the trademark case to Pennsyvania for state law trademark dilution under 54 Pa.C.S.A. 1124. Naturally, the internet company wanted that dismissed for for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue.

My fault, though. Should have kept better notes, it's actually Zippo Manufacturing v. Zippo.com.

How does that constitute a "presence?" (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272850)

Since when are resellers classified as an official presence by the vendor inside a state?

Re:How does that constitute a "presence?" (1)

ShaunC (203807) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273516)

Since now, apparently.

Well what about a deliver tax then? (2, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272876)

NY could easily pass delivery tax and make UPS and Fed-ed collect the tax for them.

However much I dislike the taxes, I hate discrimination and government loading the dice and making the playing field slanted. The brick-and-mortar companies in New York are obligated to collect sales tax for NY. That includes you corner diner and the mom-and-pop store selling used books. There was a time when compiling 50 state sales tax codes or even 25000 local county tax codes and making businesses outside complying with these code was technologically impossible. But now that excuse is not valid anymore.

If Amazon does not have to collect the tax, none of the local businesses should have to collect the tax. If the local businesses must, then Amazon must too. It is a question of Government not playing favorites and creating walled gardens. It is not really a question of whether or not the the sales tax is fair or unfair. But I am not sure most people will see the distinction.

Re:Well what about a deliver tax then? (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273066)

"NY could easily pass delivery tax and make UPS and Fed-ed collect the tax for them."


Based upon the value of what? Are you saying Fedex or UPS should know what's in the package?

Re:Well what about a deliver tax then? (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273256)

Based upon the value of what? Are you saying Fedex or UPS should know what's in the package?

That's an easy one. Either the package clearly states the price of the package, and the tax that applies (and the sender gets in _big_ trouble if the information is incorrect), or some silly flat tax applies, eg the greater of $50/kg or $5/1000 cubic cm.

Of course having the value of the package clearly obvious on the outside makes it easier for the thieves to select the best packages to steal... oh yeah... and all the other problems associated with such an idea :)

Change "affiliates" to "magazines" (1)

samuel4242 (630369) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272958)

Affiliates are just advertising venues who get paid on commissions. NYC is the center of magazine publishing. They're the old school version of affiliates. If everyone who advertises in a magazine creates a point of presence in NYC, oo boy, the magazines will be upset.

Time for a VAT? (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23272992)

Amazon disagrees that it should be required to collect such tax without a physical presence in the state.

Perhaps it's time to think about a uniform VAT for online sales. That would eliminate the need for online retailers to calculate and collect a sales tax for every individual state and could be applied to overseas online sales.

Saddling an online retailer with 50 different collection accounts and a patchwork of taxable items is just wrong. Exempt food, apply a uniform VAT, form a quasi-government corporation to distribute the money to the individual states without strings attached.

You pay sales tax for sales in your own state and the VAT for everything else. It's simple and it's fair, which is why it'll probably never happen.

Re:Time for a VAT? (3, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273068)

Um, some of us live in states that don't have sales tax.

And we've got guns.

And we believe we should live free or die.

Just sayin'.

(Actually I have no guns, but I think all my neighbors do...)

Re:Time for a VAT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23273304)

Yes. Yes they do.

Crazy Greedy Polititions (1)

Sigmon (323109) | more than 6 years ago | (#23273230)

The company for which I work began getting notices from a few states last year that we needed to be collecting and remitting sales tax on goods sold to residents in their states. We are located in Arkansas... nowhere else.

I've never understood what jurisdiction another state has to do anything about it anyway. Besides, to calculate sales tax properly & remit it to the proper authorities in each state is a HUGE burden on a small business - which we are.

In more recent times the Streamlined Sales Tax (SST) is an attempt to make things easier for small businesses - but when I got hooked up with the only two companies who offered an SST-authorized software service, I found out they didn't even have a PHP-based API for me to use. My entire system is built in PHP! Not Java... Not .NET. I eventually just threw my hands up and said, Screw it! If they want me to collect the tax for them they can give me tool to do so.
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