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NY Times, LA Times Want Amazon To Collect More State Taxes

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the this-golden-goose-soup-is-delicious dept.

Businesses 507

theodp writes "Recalling that CEO Jeff Bezos originally explored placing Amazon.com on an Indian Reservation near San Francisco to 'have access to talent without all the tax consequences,' the NY Times argues it's time to put an end to the e-tailer's 'entity isolation' tax-avoidance games. The LA Times chimes in, saying Amazon's claims that collecting sales tax constitute an undue burden are 'worth a horselaugh,' noting that Amazon boasts it has no problem keeping track of millions of unique products."

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507 comments

How do you think it works in the EU ? (3, Informative)

BESTouff (531293) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569664)

Amazon has to collect taxes in countries where the law makes it mandatory, e.g. in the EU. So it's not so hard.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (0, Redundant)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569694)

Amazon has to collect taxes in countries where the law makes it mandatory, e.g. in the EU. So it's not so hard.

I believe it would hideously complicated to implement requiring lawyers and accountants to sift through tax laws to figure out what it needs to collect, what it needs to declare to revenue etc. Other smaller retailers manage it, and Amazon themselves manage it in outside the US. So it is lame for them to claim they can't do it from a technical, fiscal or legal standpoint. I can well understand why they wouldn't want to do it from a sales standpoint though.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (5, Insightful)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569780)

Those entities where they do it are done on a country level, which is fairly simple.

I won't claim that Amazon can't get it done, because they're smart people with incredible infrastructure and metric crap-tons of money that they could throw at the problem if they so desired. I can tell you that I live in Cook County, Illinois where Amazon would be forced to collect not only the Illinois state sales tax, but also a Cook County sales tax. I can tell you that since they sell cigarettes, that county sales tax is different for that product versus others. I can tell you that while I myself do not live in Chicago, if I did and I ordered from Amazon they would also then be obligated to collect yet another sales tax. And that, you guessed it, Chicago also levies "sin taxes" on certain products including cigarettes, soft drinks and--don't ask me why--bottled water. And I can tell you that the tax rates are scheduled to change in July 2010.

That is, of course, one potential set of jurisdictions for one potential customer. Now multiply that ridiculous level of legal complexity for every possible combination of city, county and state that are applicable and you're quickly arriving at a system of rather ridiculous proportion. Better that we not bother, in my mind.

Before anybody says "but we're only talking about state taxes!" I'll head it off by saying two things: First, that if we're going to make them collect state taxes you can bet the next debate is going to be about other levels of government as counties* and cities all complain about how their budgets are struggling too. And second, that it only helps marginally. In my example, about half of those county and city taxes are actually collected and administered by the state of Illinois, essentially making them state taxes that are only applicable in certain areas.

I understand the plight of the brick-and-mortars who not only have to compete on price but also on a lack of sales tax. I also understand the struggles of many cities and states with their budgets for the past decade or so now. But this is a ridiculously complicated system, far different from the "ZOMG X% VAT" that Amazon deals with in other countries. Setup would be bad enough, much less maintaining compliance with all such systems.

Impossible? No. Unwieldy? Definitely. Worthwhile? Not in my mind.

* I think Cook County may be the only county in the country that is legally permitted to levy its own sales tax, but I'm not sure.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (4, Informative)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569930)

* I think Cook County may be the only county in the country that is legally permitted to levy its own sales tax, but I'm not sure.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sales_taxes_in_the_United_States. I know for a fact that counties in georgia also levy sales taxes, theres more listed here.. trust me cook county isnt the only one, and to assume so showed you have never left home.

"Georgia has a 4% state sales tax rate. Groceries are exempt from the state sales tax, but still subject to tax by the local sales tax rate. Counties may impose local sales tax of 1%, 2%, or 3%, consisting of up to three 1% local-option sales taxes (out of a set of five) as permitted by Georgia law."

MANY MANY MANY counties have sales taxes across the country.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (2, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569962)

Aside from county sales tax, some cities/municipalities have their own sales tax. And sometimes the maps for them get very strange.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (2, Informative)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570160)

In Louisiana, there are also Water Districts and Levee Districts, which overlap county boundaries and almost certainly overlap zip code boundaries.

The constantly changing tax rates, plus constantly changing exception lists, makes management a nightmare.

But a jillion national brand brick-and-mortar companies (Walmart, Home Depot, Sears, JCPenney, etc, etc) know how to do it, so Amazon and NewEgg can figure out how to do it.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (2, Insightful)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570176)

All the B&M companies only have to figure it out once per store. I'm pretty sure Amazon can afford to do this per customer, but there are a lot of small companies that can't.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (2, Informative)

pmonje (588285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570034)

* I think Cook County may be the only county in the country that is legally permitted to levy its own sales tax, but I'm not sure.

I'm not sure about others, but in NY we have taxes at the state, county and city level.

This seems like a case of the states trying to make a grab for more money without upping their own taxes.

Catalogs have never had to pay out of state sales tax unless the company owned land in the state they were shipping to, like a warehouse, store or distribution center.

NY has been pushing this idea for a while now. Most people don't realize that NYS now demands sales tax on any item purchased out of state for use or consumption within NYS. They passed the law a couple years ago without much fanfare and buried it in a small easily overlooked section of the NYS tax return. I imagine it's just lurking there until they find an easy way to track incoming parcels from amazon and QVC.

So if you walk over the border to Pennsylvania, buy a candybar and don't eat it till you return home to NYS, you're supposed note that purchase on your tax return and pay the applicable sales tax on April 15th.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (1)

d'fim (132296) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570134)

"Now multiply that ridiculous level of legal complexity for every possible combination of city, county and state that are applicable . . ."

It's called a tree-shaped data structure and I'll bet somebody could start a subscription-based website that maintains a current database of such info for its customers, if it hasn't already been done.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569730)

Yes, but do the EU countries have multiple sales tax regimes within each postal code, or a national VAT? There is a big difference between the two.

Remember, too, that Amazon already pays corporate income tax (the US has one of the highest rates in the world) and its shareholders have to pay taxes on any dividends. They do pay taxes. They just don't collect sales and use taxes except where they can't avoid it. Regulatory arbitrage is not something to be ashamed of.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569796)

Brick and mortar stores - all of which have to collect and pay sales taxes - also have to pay corporate income taxes. Why should Amazon have such a huge advantage over brick and mortar stores?

I'm not concerned with the difficulty involved, either from an administrative POV, or a technical POV. In effect, Amazon is doing business in my county, so it's up to them to comply with the tax laws in my county. And, they are also effectively doing business in New York City, Seattle, Miami, Anchorage, Bangor, and Los Angeles. They OWE it to each of those jurisdictions to collect, then submit, the proper sales taxes.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570048)

I really don't get that argument - they have no physical presence (ignoring their distribution center locations) in your county/town (maybe in your state, I don't know how large a region each distribution center services). Why should they be subject to sales taxes from an area they have no presence in? I would view this as equivalent to your home county trying to charge you taxes on souvenirs purchased in NYC or DC. I would be perfectly fine if they charged sales tax at the site(s) of the distribution centers that ship the products or at the location of their corporate headquarters.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (3, Interesting)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570092)

Brick and mortar stores - all of which have to collect and pay sales taxes - also have to pay corporate income taxes. Why should Amazon have such a huge advantage over brick and mortar stores?

Huge advantage? Ever heard of shipping? Bumps the price of the item up about as much as sales tax. In fact, since I live in WA I already have to pay sales tax on my Amazon orders on top of shipping costs. It makes small items cost about 2 or 3 times what they cost in the local Target/Walmart.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30569838)

Amazon doesn't day any dividends, jackass. And the 35% corporate tax rate is trivially avoided by not having book profits.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (2, Interesting)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569928)

Perhaps, I'm not familiar with the tax laws in the various EU countries. I do know that there are many states that have taxes that vary by county. Counties are not easily discernible by zip codes, which makes it very difficult to accurately determine the buyer's location. You can't trust the buyers to do it, either, because if given the option they'll choose the one with the lowest tax.

Add in the fact that each county has different taxes for different items (cigarettes, alchohol, ammo, soft drinks, even junk food in some) and you have yourself a mini nightmare of tax law. Ohio, for example, has 88 counties, all of which tax differently. Not only can these taxes change at any time, it's not unheard of to redraw county lines. You can see where online retailers are going to need an army of tax lawyers to make sense of it all and keep it up to date.

Either way, Amazon probably has the resources to do so, but do all online retailers? I doubt it...

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (3, Insightful)

MooUK (905450) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570098)

If the buyer lies, that's the buyer committing tax fraud and the buyer's problem, not Amazon's. 'Least, that's the way I'd see it. Require the buyer to state their county, and work it for that. Job done.

Re:How do you think it works in the EU ? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570206)

The buyer is already committing tax fraud by not voluntarily submitting use tax on all purchased items to the appropriate tax agencies. And, as others note, some taxes span multiple counties; sometimes places with the same postal (ZIP) code have different taxes.

Amazon UK manages it (5, Informative)

amorsen (7485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569672)

Amazon UK manages to collect the appropriate VAT, depending on country. Which is why, if you buy from e.g. Denmark, you should order from one of the smaller UK book stores so you get to pay the UK VAT (0% on books) instead of the Danish one (25% on everything).

Re:Amazon UK manages it (1)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569706)

Which is why, if you buy from e.g. Denmark, you should order from one of the smaller UK book stores so you get to pay the UK VAT (0% on books) instead of the Danish one (25% on everything).

Ah yes, but people need their Lego and butter-cookies. Got some pretty famous cartoons too, MUAHAHA!

Re:Amazon UK manages it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570024)

That is only correct in as far as you need to declare the purchase and pay the tax in the EU anyway. Of course it is convenient to "forget" it, but customs here in Belgium at least does track down a significant amount of such purchases. I know from personal experience and hearsay that they will come to your door to collect the tax and possible fine.

Of course the Danish might have more luck.

Bottom line: when in the EU, buy in the EU.

Re:Amazon UK manages it (0, Troll)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570222)

Ah if only the global population were more intellectual. Then us lowly ingrates would all happily pay whatever tax the authorities mandate necessary to solve our social problems. I love the word 'social'. It reminds me of ice-cream. So let's all be intellectual, eat ice-cream and pay taxes.

Note the lack of mentioning all the other taxes (4, Insightful)

AndOne (815855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569676)

The NY times article chooses to skip mentioning all the taxes other than sales tax Amazon would be paying in those areas with its isolated tax groups. I also think it's cute that they feel amazon has a moral right to pay more taxes in this 'time of hardship'. But really, people are surprised when a company is avoiding as many taxes as possible, especially a tax that would make them less able to make a profit? They're surprised people aren't paying use taxes?

Re:Note the lack of mentioning all the other taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30569728)

Actually, back in the 50's and 60's, businesses considered it their duty to pay taxes and help the local community. Now, these companies do everything to not pay taxes, while paying their CEO's obscene amounts. American businesses are no longer American in anything EXCEPT for name.

America needs to start collecting the taxes.

Re:Note the lack of mentioning all the other taxes (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569926)

So I take it you don't like being able to afford things? Because business don't pay taxes - consumers do.

Re:Note the lack of mentioning all the other taxes (1)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569974)

I prefer my country not being indebted to other countries, just to keep it running. I prefer my country not spending more than it takes in. I prefer my country being able to afford to keep all those government services that keep it running strong. If that means that I have to pay more in taxes, then I am ready to do so.

Re:Note the lack of mentioning all the other taxes (1, Offtopic)

Targon (17348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569932)

And, for an out-of-state company, the taxes would NEVER go to the local community, because the business isn't in that local community. There is the other problem of state governments spending so foolishly that NO ONE would approve. When public school teachers make upwards of $80,000 to teach from September through June, with MANY vacations and days off due to government holidays on top of that, there is a huge problem, and no one seems to be willing to step up and DO anything about it.

Why should government offices and schools be closed for Columbus Day for example? It is one thing to record things in history books, but SERIOUSLY, in times of financial difficulty, why are there so many PAID days off for government employees? The governments need to just re-evaluate the pay they give employees as well, and make sure they are appropriate for the local cost of living and what is being paid in the private sector. If someone in the private sector gets paid $25,000/year to answer a phone, then a government employee doing the same job should be getting paid $25,000/year, not $40,000/year plus better benefits and a pension on top of it. How about caps on pensions where people can NOT collect a pension for longer than 2/3rds of the time they were working(meaning 30 years of service would only provide 20 years of pension)?

Cut the cost(not size) of government, and the need for all this extra tax money would go way way down.

Re:Note the lack of mentioning all the other taxes (1)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570076)

Where are you getting your facts and figures? For one, I have never heard of a teacher getting paid $80,000. Most teachers that I know make half that, if that much. The ones that make more are in the 50,000 dollar range. Also, government jobs generally pay much less than their private sector counterparts. Again, where are you getting your dollar amounts?

I do not understand why you feel that Amazon sales should not be taxed. If you buy a book from the bookstore, you have to pay a sales tax. If you buy a cd from the music shop, you have pay a sales tax. If you buy a movie from the video store, you have to pay a sales tax. Why should it be different if you order it from Amazon, instead?

Cutting the cost of the government still wouldn't be enough, because we still have a debt to pay off. Part of the reason we have all these financial difficulties in the government today is being we, as Americans, don't pay enough in taxes. The government just keeps building a bigger and bigger debt.

Re:Note the lack of mentioning all the other taxes (2, Insightful)

jacobsm (661831) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569808)

You are missing the point of the article, the articles are not proposing that Amazon et al. pay one more cent of tax on their income just collect and remit to the proper taxing authorities taxes that are legally owed by the purchaser of the goods. Would it increase the cost of doing business for e-commerce firms, yes but so what? The cost of doing business is part of any business plan. Amazon and its ilk are utilizing a legal loophole to get an unfair advantage over local merchants.

The handwriting is on the wall, there are too many states hurting for revenue. The current environment isn't fair, isn't sustainable, isn't long for this world.

Re:Note the lack of mentioning all the other taxes (5, Insightful)

AndOne (815855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569950)

Requiring retailers(online or not) to collect use taxes starts us down a rather slippery slope and is probably not constitutional. Requiring they collect sales tax without 'a nexus of operations' is unconstitutional.

I didn't miss the point of the article, I was pointing out that the article is disingenuous in it's description of the situation. The only legal loophole amazon is exploiting is the separation of sub-entities related to it's primary business as a way to avoid the presence of a legal nexus of operation. And those sub-entities are still paying taxes with respect to everything else that they do. Even if that loophole was closed then only a handful of additional states would be receiving sales tax.

Additionally, if laws are passed requiring all online businesses to collect sales taxes this will have a distinct chilling effect on all but the largest of retailers.

As a final note, perhaps states should start enforcing use taxes if they're that concerned about it, but given the complexity of doing so, and the fact that enforcing it would probably cost more than could be recouped from them, use taxes still seem rather silly in their logic. Americans(speaking of patriotism) pathologically do not like paying taxes and expecting them to volunteer(in the sense of paying a nearly totally avoidable and confusing tax) even more money during a recession seems like an exercise in futility. Perhaps if the government provided a line item receipt on how tax money was spent we might feel differently.

Re:Note the lack of mentioning all the other taxes (2, Informative)

adisakp (705706) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569882)

In the Chicago area, we have the highest as well as one of the most complicated sales tax in the nation. I live in the NW Suburbs we pay a state tax, a cook county tax, and a local (city) sales tax. The total in most places in Chicago and surrounding suburbs is 10.5%. There is also a dine-in sales tax of 1-2% depending on city and a "loop" sales tax so you pay around 13% tax to eat out in a restaurant. We have different sales tax rates for General Merchandies (9%) , Qualifying Food and Drugs (yep food taxed at 2.25%), Vehicles (7.25 or Chicago Home Rule Tax of 8.5%). We have a "use tax" which may be charged instead of "sales tax" on certain occasions for General Merchandis (6.25% - note not equal to 9% sales tax) or Qualifying Food and Drugs (1% - again not equal to sales tax). We have different local rates for taxing over 2,000 special items (cigarettes, liquor, and other "sin" sales tax varying rates per community make up many of these) in IL depending on municipality including taxes on bottled water (per bottle) and a proposed additional tax on soda pop.

I could be paying 12-13% sales tax for an item while someone 50 miles west of me in Rockford, IL (same state - 45 min drive on highway @65 MPH) pays only 6.5%.

To be honest, if I drive the 3 miles from one town's shopping center to another here in IL, I never have any idea what the exact rate I'll be paying other than it'll be too much.

Re:Note the lack of mentioning all the other taxes (1)

gander666 (723553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570100)

Add to that the crappy cold winters, and the truly obnoxious gun control laws, and I can't for the life of me see why anyone stays there.

Well, you do have great food, and the few weeks where the weather is truly perfect, it is gorgeous to look out over the lake...

Only amazon? (0, Offtopic)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569680)

Because only amazon avoids taxes with legal loopholes.....

Nice to know a health care bill goes in with a "tax" per person, but we still cant get microsoft, blackwater, goldmansachs, to their fair share of taxes...

Guess amazon needs more lobbyists.

Re:Only amazon? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30569822)

Obeying the law is not a loophole. They could add taxes to their site for every specific city, county, state, etc. and send them money, but it would be a donation, not a tax. Until the law gets changed, Amazon is neither abusing a loophole nor doing anything morally objectionable. I think singling Amazon out here on the sales tax thing is really low, it's not something Amazon is specifically in the wrong on, it's something the law is in the wrong on. Hating Amazon for not paying taxes is the same as hating the American public for not pushing for the tax.

Re:Only amazon? (2, Interesting)

gowen (141411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569844)

Obeying the law is not a loophole.

Of course. It is: that's what "loophole" means - something that is within the law, but allows someone to avoid something to which, morally the should be liable.

Re:Only amazon? (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569940)

Wait.. Wha? Corporations have morals now? haha good one.

Re:Only amazon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570036)

No. That's why my company employs children in China. It's completely legal and cheap as hell! It's great!

You know that companys are often run by people, right?

Re:Only amazon? (3, Informative)

gander666 (723553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570142)

Apple seems to handle collection of local taxes quite well. They even know that part of my zip code is PIMA county instead of Tucson city, and thus has a (slightly) different tax rate.

I am starting a business with a friend (actually, she does the hard work, and I provide the business and some financial backing), but we collect sales tax in Arizona, and California for selling our images. Amazingly, Quickbooks handles this fine. I just do not happen to live on an Indian Reservation, like Amazon did in placing their Arizona presence.

Truth be told, I do not pick retailers online due to tax free or not. I pick them by reputation, and past experiences. If Amazon one day started collecting taxes and whatnot for the goods purchased through them, I probably wouldn't blink. And I venture to guess that most of their customers wouldn't either. They need to rethink their business plan.

What this really points out is that the tax code (federal and state) needs a thorough cleansing and simplification. Remove the loopholes, tighten the standards, and make the collection and rates balanced, and much of this behavior should disappear.

I suspect I will see pigs flying before this happens though

Re:Only amazon? (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569896)

To be fair, the theory behind leaving corporations and the rich alone is that doing so will result in greater investment and more jobs. A trickle down, if you will.

Ok, so it's a goofy concept.

But it did sound like sound policy to a lot of people back when Reagan was president. The famous words that accompanied this new economic approach were "Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem!" Long live unfettered free-market capitalism.

Small wonder that belief in government was supplanted by corporatism. I'd like to say we've finally come full circle, but I'm left wondering how many people, rejecting both, having nothing to believe in at all. Cynicism as a belief system is boring stuff, even for the cynics.

Re:Only amazon? (2, Interesting)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570148)

Reagan did lower taxes...only to raise them again, a year later. Apparently he saw that the deficit grew too large too quickly. However, this part of the Reagan aura is frequently left out by his devoted followers. Even Reagan realized that Reaganomics didn't work. However, tax cuts are popular, and tax increases are unpopular, and thus we find ourselves in the situation we are in now, with trillions of dollars in debt, and the light at the end of the tunnel growing dimmer and dimmer.

Re:Only amazon? (1)

Neuroelectronic (643221) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569984)

This makes me wonder why they're targeting Amazon specifically. Perhaps a simple conspiracy between the liberal papers to short AMZN's record high stock?

From the NYT article, they are following the law (2, Insightful)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569682)

Amazon has found a way to put portions of its business into the tax-haven equivalent of reservations. By creating wholly owned subsidiaries for the parts that are treated separately for tax matters, Amazon is under no obligation to collect sales tax. This legal technique is called “entity isolation,” said Michael Mazerov, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington.

The state and federal governments made complicated tax laws and Amazon is following them in a business efficient manner. What is their problem?

Re:From the NYT article, they are following the la (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30569716)

The state and federal governments made complicated tax laws and Amazon is following them in a business efficient manner. What is their problem?

It is the whole 'letter of the law' vs 'spirit of the law' thing... The letter of the law may allow someone with access to expensive lawyers to avoid paying taxes, but it is not in the spirit of the law?

Re:From the NYT article, they are following the la (5, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569742)

The letter of the law may allow someone with access to expensive lawyers to avoid paying taxes, but it is not in the spirit of the law?

"Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands."

(US Appeals Court Justice the Honourable Learned Hand)

Re:From the NYT article, they are following the la (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570020)

Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.

There's a certain truthiness to that, but the perspective is a bit narrow, doncha think? How, for example, would you explain the following Wiki entry [wikipedia.org] :

One of the world's wealthiest men, Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and the father of another of the world's wealthiest men (Microsoft founder Bill Gates), William H. Gates, Sr., favor the estate tax.

Rich men trying to give their hard earned money to the government? Blasphemy.

If you really hold that the general principle that "Nobody owes anybody anything" is valid, then I suppose "sharing" is delusional and childish, "sacrifice for others" is delayed gratification, "charity" a clever misdirection or an attempt at ego agggrandisement, and "community service" is an atonement for misplaced guilt.

The problem is that even animals don't subscribe to that kind of thinking, or behaviour. Your justifications no doubt seem correct to you, but I suspect in the end you'll wind up recognising them as nothing other than sophistry. I'd also suspect visiting a school bake sale or a community food bank and talking to the locals might accelerate the process.

Smaller companies? (4, Insightful)

alzoron (210577) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569690)

It might not be an undue burden to Amazon, but what about smaller online companies? You could use software to manage the collecting of sales tax for everything but the real problem comes to sending off that money to every town, county, and state that collects sales tax. Someone buys something for a couple bucks and suddenly you have to send payments of a few cents to three different places. Even if you save it all up and send it bi-yearly you could be looking at thousands of separate payments based on how widespread your client base is.

You can't just look at a huge company with millions in revenue and make a one size fits it all decision.

Re:Smaller companies? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569884)

Exactly, keeping track of and collecting the sales tax in the many different governmental authorities that levy a sales tax wouldn't be that hard for Amazon. It would however place another barrier to entry for a small business that would like to get started selling over the Internet. Which is why the NYT and LAT are for it, small businesses are harder to regulate and control and reduce people's dependency on the government.

Re:Smaller companies? (3, Insightful)

berberine (1001975) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569920)

Ten years ago, I worked for Nebraska Bookstore. It's not huge when compared to Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I worked in their catalog department. When we rang up an order, out of state purchases got 0% tax and, if it was shipped in-state, there was a little chart above the register with each city listed alphabetically and what their tax was. This was because, in Nebraska, there is a state tax and a city tax. So, they figured out what the two together were and made a handy list for us.

Everything we did was manual but, from what I've heard, they now have a computer program that figures it out for you and you just punch in the complete total (purchase+tax+shipping) when you ring it up. I would assume that since this was ten years ago, there are better programs now to do the same thing.

Re:Smaller companies? (2, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570198)

There is over a hundred different tax rates in NY state alone. The company I work for has seven different locations in seven different counties. Any one can come to us and buy stuff. However since we do somuch business around the state we have to deal with taxes to the point where one of our accountants (out of three) spends half of her week justkeeping it straight. Failure is expensive. You see when the state audits you they take a sample of errors made and multiply that by the number of years they go back. It doesn't matter if that sample is accurate. So multi million dollar fines are the norm.

If a local company has to hire a person just to manage the problem amazon will have to hire 100. Not that amazon can't but tax law is so complicated lawyers have given up trying to figure it out

Totally agree Re:Smaller companies? (1)

giladpn (1657217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570128)

Alzoron has it right! In fact, in any NEW project, even for a large company, trying to get the myriad payments right is extremely onerous.

I happen to have experience with the topic from a project I did - even if you have a big budget and months of time its not easy.

Remember that the internet is global. If the USA charges sales tax based on the location of the CUSTOMER, then all countries in the world can and would do the same.

Imagine trying to get that right given millions of towns and counties all over the world.

Re:Smaller companies? (2, Insightful)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570262)

My mom has been trying to start a new museum lately. One of the big projects is to set up Internet-based donations. Naturally, every state has its own laws on how donations to non-profits work. Non-profits have to be registered separately in every state (technically there is a "standard form", but the states who take it all require extra documentation as well) and tax reporting is just a gargantuan enormous burden. Too complicated for any small non-profit to ever manage.

As a result, there are companies that specialize in doing this for you. They take a small slice of the donations (something like 2%) and in exchange they manage all of the annoying reporting and legal issues involved.

It turns out that they're good at it. So good, in fact, that the Red Cross uses them because they find it cheaper and more reliable.

I see no reason whatsoever that a similar business couldn't form for internet sales tax. And, in fact, I find it almost inevitable that such a business will form once it becomes an issue. So, as for how much it will cost, and how difficult it will be to manage: well, about 2% of your revenue, if the non-profit area is any indication.

Plus the taxes that you now have to pay, of course.

"tax" problem was solved in mid-1990s (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570282)

Several start-ups developed zip-code based tax collection systems at the dawn of the web era. They were little-used, but exist. The US Congress prohibited "taxing the internet" for most of the 1990s and 2000s to the chargrin of states. Problably would hurt the dot.com bubbles they were speculating in.
Customers hate paying sales taxes too. So many use the internet for that reason.
After two major recessions this decade, governments are re-examining the tax issue.

Amazon == Borg (0, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569708)

The reason that Amazon has the advantage over all the local retailers that it puts out of business, is because it plays by different rules. No, it's not right, and Amazon needs to start playing by the same rules as everyone else.

Re:Amazon == Borg (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569820)

The reason that Amazon has the advantage over all the local retailers that it puts out of business, is because it plays by different rules.

Yeah, like low overhead due to a lack of retail space.

Retail is on the way out whether etailers pay the same sales taxes as everyone else, or not. Arguably, they should, as they receive the same services as retailers. But etail has certain inherent advantages that, over time, will kill off all non-big-box retailers and leave only niche, specialty stores, Target, and Wal-Mart.

Wow (1)

Irontail (1346011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569714)

The New York Times article states that Amazon collects sales tax in the four states (Washington State, North Dakota, Kentucky and Kansas) in which it has presence that legally requires them to collect sales tax. It has offices in other states, but due to the nature of these offices, amazon is not required to collect taxes in these states.

So, basically, the NYT is saying that Amazon should go above and beyond its legal obligations and pay more taxes for the hell of it. I somehow don't see that happening anytime soon. Perhaps those states with unbalanced budgets that could benefit from Amazon paying additional taxes should start enforcing their existing use tax laws?

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30569756)

Living in Washington state myself, I wonder how many Washingtonians realize that when they buy something online, which isn't subject to tax, "use tax" ends up being due.

When I buy from Amazon, I get taxed. When I buy from Newegg, I have to file use tax. With Newegg, it's a hassle, because it means printing out the form, and mailing it in with a money order.

And for those who realize it is due, I wonder if they are honest enough to file it.

Chances are, if people don't file use tax on mediocre purchases, they won't get caught. I think someone is much more likely to get caught, and in trouble, when they buy big ticket items. How? I don't know.

Anyways, I don't know what Amazon's problem is. If it is simply the sales tax, or if it is a combination of things. Maybe the New York government could work out some sort of agreement, if legally possible. Like if Amazon collects a flat tax from all purchases made by New Yorkers, and New York's DoR could divide it up according to some elaborate formula among all their localities. Like, based on regular purchases, it wouldn't be hard to figure it out.

Let the liberal media pay taxes for once. (-1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569724)

Surprise, two liberal papers start bitching about how someone isn't paying their "fair share" of taxes, overlooking, as usual, that everyone who invests in Amazon already pays an increasing tax for it, the people that work at Amazon already pay taxes, the people that sell to Amazon pay taxes, and now they just want to add the people that buy from Amazon to that list. Really, its just about getting more money into the government coffers so they can blow it on a bunch of crap, and the only definition of fair for any liberal is more money for them.

How about this? Let's have the liberal media pay its fair share. I say that intellectual property should be property taxed. Shouldn't the New York Times and the LA Times be charged a property tax for every back article they have ever written? If they can sell old reprints, doesn't that mean they are floating on property taxes? Why is it that someone like a Linus Torvalds or GNU can hold a copyright to code worth billions of dollars without having paying taxes on it? If I had a thousand acres of property, I should have to pay taxes on it. Just because someone can live in my house for free doesn't change its assessed value. Why shouldn't they pay for the property taxes they own? I think we should get rid of this baked in advantage for IP industries and demand that they too pay their fair share.

If big media wants us to treat IP like it is real property, then tax it like real property.

Can you see where this idea will lead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30569754)

That's an excellent idea you've set down for all of us to read; I've never heard anyone else say it, so it must be your idea.

I'm sure the IRS will be happy to accept a check. Oh, IOKIYAR?

Re:Let the liberal media pay taxes for once. (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569778)

Did you really just say that Linus Torvalds should pay taxes for the billions of dollars that Linux is worth?

On Slashdot?

By the way, I don't think that code has that much monetary value, since he can't actually sell it. Sure, the net economic gain from using Linux could very well be in the billions, but that doesn't mean the guy is ever going to own the Moon.

Re:Let the liberal media pay taxes for once. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569786)

By the way, I don't think that code has that much monetary value, since he can't actually sell it.

That's not all that different from how cities calculate taxes on the assessed values of homes.

Re:Let the liberal media pay taxes for once. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30569918)

Wow. You are pretty much a dumb douche.

Imagine every piece of intellectual property being taxed... Own the copy right to a song that isnt making any money? TOO BAD, pay up!

Seriously... You are an idiot.

Re:Let the liberal media pay taxes for once. (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569982)

Yes but that still makes you an idiot for trying to tax something, i assume yearly, that can never be sold (Linux). Are you going to have Program assessors look at your source code and tell you to pay money? If I write a program for personal use, and then release it should I be taxed?

Did the builders have their blueprints taxed?

You misunderstood something (2, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569904)

It's not Amazon that would be paying sales tax. The buyer pays the tax. Amazon just doesn't want to a) deal with administering separate tax rates and payments to multiple States and b) have it's perceived prices increase with the addition of tax.

The funny thing is in general I agree with your view on taxation; it's just that in this instance your argument doesn't fit the issue.

Well to be fair (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569948)

I say that intellectual property should be property taxed. Shouldn't the New York Times and the LA Times be charged a property tax for every back article they have ever written?

So shouldn't they pay nothing then? I mean you said they should be taxed on intellectual property but there's nothing intellectual about being a couple left-wing shill like those 2 rags.(And the Boston Globe Democrat who is pretty blatant about it.)

Wouldn't it be wonderful, (3, Interesting)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569726)

if there were no tax heavens anywhere in the world and businesses just paid what they owed like the rest of us. Sure the prices will go up but if this happened from the get go, it wouldn't be an issue. I'm annoyed with companies avoiding paying tax but then using the government system to seek protections or create laws for their benefit.

I like my tax heaven (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569812)

if there were no tax heavens anywhere in the world

I live in Delaware USA. There's no sales taxes, and low incomes taxes. I think its awesome. Please, raise your taxes.

Re:I like my tax heaven (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30569846)

Yeah, a buddy of mine drives 3 hours to come in from Delaware to the People's Republic of MD.

There is _nothing_ wrong with avoiding taxes. My God, if we have a right to an attorney to help us avoid jail time, we ought to have a right to avoid spending 1/3rd of our life working for the government.

Re:I like my tax heaven (2, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569878)

There is _nothing_ wrong with avoiding taxes. My God, if we have a right to an attorney to help us avoid jail time, we ought to have a right to avoid spending 1/3rd of our life working for the government.

Well, like everything, to a point. But in Delaware's case, the roads are paved on time, traffic is manageable, public services are good, and things are rolling along. Like, I have to ask, what exactly does New Jersey or Maryland do with all of their dough, because, in both cases, services are worse and the roads are worse.

I think what makes Delaware tick is that you have some genuine bipartisan centrist leadership. Democrats and Republicans alike are not the crazies that are in Washington DC.

Re:I like my tax heaven (1)

ffoiii (226358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569966)

Delaware is home to many, many, US corporations, because of their favorable corporate law. Because of this, many US companies choose to be Delaware based companies, and this creates a large tax base independent of the population of Delaware. It has nothing to do with "bipartisan centrist leadership".

Re:I like my tax heaven (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570064)

>Delaware is home to many, many, US corporations, because of their favorable corporate law.
>I live in Delaware USA. There's no sales taxes, and low incomes taxes.

umm... Pro-business leadership I would say. Favorite corporate law. No sales and low income tax. Looks like conservative economics works.

Re:Wouldn't it be wonderful, (3, Insightful)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570192)

"businesses just paid what they owed like the rest of us"

Businesses don't pay taxes, the consumer does.

No Way! (3, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569832)

This is an attempt to please brick and mortar stores who want to push electronic sales into the toilet. On line sales already carry a great burden in shipping costs. If you add taxes on top of shipping costs you kill online sales completely.

Re:No Way! (3, Insightful)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570224)

And brick and mortar carry a great burden in paying for their building(making it customer friendly, as opposed to being a warehouse), and all that comes with having a brick and mortar store. Guess what, it's part of having a business. They already have taxes on top of all of that. Many of the bigger stores have an online store as well, so they have both ends to deal with. Again, it's part of having a business.

Burden (5, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569876)

Yes, there is a real burden here. A "brick" store only has to deal with exactly ONE tax rate, which is the rate for their physical location. A chain of stores would only need to deal with this on a per-store basis. However, the web retailer is expected to charge tax based not on their own physical location, but rather, the location of the customer ordering the merchandise. This means keeping a database, and keeping it updated, for each and every single tax jurisdiction in the country. In many states this varies by individual city and town. There are thousands of these. In some cases they are even split across zip codes. And it's not just rates to worry about. Different jurisdictions have different exemptions of what products don't require a tax (food in one place, only perishable food in another, bath products might be included in another, school supplies exempted in a few, etc).

Then there is the issue of ensuring the taxes get paid to the proper government entity. That and making sure people are not subverting the system by sending packages to other locations.

Some solutions to this are possible.

I suggest that instead of the stores charging the tax, the credit/debit card processor charge the tax. The advantage of this is that they readily know the billing address of the account holder. Their payments to the government entities would be more in bulk, instead of these governments getting thousands of small payments from all the "mom and pop" web sites that would be compliant with tax law changes. The one change that would need to be made is each credit/debit charge would need to have split up according to product type classifications (a federal standard needed for that).

Another alternative is for a federal law that simply requires each of the states to submit ONE tax rate for the whole state, and accept a set of exemptions designated by that federal law, to be part of the inter-state tax program. One other requirement is, to be a part of it, they treat in-state web retailers exactly the same as out-of-state (e.g. all or nothing).

The burden on web retailers is NOT a myth. It is very real. Amazon can probably handle it. But you know the smaller retailers will be next, and eventually they will try to impose this on others. Taxes are essential, but it needs to be kept simple. Also, smaller retailers need to have a SINGLE (not 50) payment destinations (a central clearinghouse for this).

Re:Burden (1)

winthrop (314632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570150)

I know there's the problem of submitting the taxes to the jurisdiction, but if the problem of figuring out what the taxes are is so hard, they could just include the sales tax in their prices, and then submit taxes based on the maximum tax rate to each jurisdiction. So, if some state charges 9% sales tax, they could just charge everybody 109%, then send 9% to every state. That way, they'd be freed of the administrative burden.

I'm willing to bet that if they were required to do that, they'd discover pretty quickly how easy it is to collect variable levels of sales tax across various districts.

Re:Burden (0)

damaki (997243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570154)

You know, in France, small brick and mortar store have to deal with multiple taxes. We've got different taxes on books, alcoholic beverages, perfumes, DVDs, music, food, and even more that I do not know about. Some small stores sell multiple of these things and, guess, do not whine about it.
Is it so hard to manage 50 different taxes matching the billing states? No, it's not.
BTW, I am J2EE/PHP web developper who has already worked on an online store.

Re:Burden (1)

GeckoAddict (1154537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570188)

I suggest that instead of the stores charging the tax, the credit/debit card processor charge the tax.

This would completely screw a lot of tourist/travel destinations. Mall of America, the Disney Areas, shopping on Chicago's Michigan St, etc is all affected and all incentive for those municipalities to bring people in is gone.

Another alternative is for a federal law that simply requires each of the states to submit ONE tax rate for the whole state, and accept a set of exemptions designated by that federal law, to be part of the inter-state tax program.

Sounds like a much better idea.

Re:Burden (1)

Felix Da Rat (93827) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570210)

Another alternative is for a federal law that simply requires each of the states to submit ONE tax rate for the whole state, and accept a set of exemptions designated by that federal law, to be part of the inter-state tax program. One other requirement is, to be a part of it, they treat in-state web retailers exactly the same as out-of-state (e.g. all or nothing).

While it might be a good idea for states to decide on a flat rate tax for internet orders of any type, we are talking about State taxes here. Federal laws have no real weight on that topic, nor should they.

As for who collects the taxes, well, if I recall correctly, most states do actually have a section where people are expected to list their out of state purchases on their tax forms. This sounds like a problem for NY and CA because people might not be as honest as they would like. Then again for the people, if they buy something on a trip, they've already paid taxes on it at the point of sale, so being dunned twice seems rather foolish as well. Yes, mail order and the internet do change people's ability to buy from out of state easily, but if any taxes are to be paid on a purchase (which annoys me almost as much as property taxes), then it should be the taxes charged at the point of sale. i.e. Those within whichever tax jurisdiction is making the sale.

The dangers of stupid taxes (1)

Targon (17348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569880)

When you think about it, the problem with most of the taxes imposed by states is that the idea is to pay for government provided services. Now, for out of state businesses, shouldn't the ONLY real burden be on the transit systems(roads and rails)? The postal system already charges money for delivering things, so really, it is just about transit systems. Sales taxes, such as they are, are a bit foolish to impose on out of state entities since the equipment that handles the actual exchange of money is generally not in the state demanding that sales taxes are collected. Basically, if a financial transaction takes place outside of a state, I don't feel that state has the right to demand money for the transaction.

Now, a national sales tax would eliminate this issue, or some other system.

The real problem that many states are running into is that they are run like governments, spending money they don't have and will NEVER have to provide services that will never end up with a net profit. Paying employees too much money, giving too much PAID time off(including the dozens of government holidays where other businesses stay open), and really, just spending too much for the tax income they bring in. If a private business were to try operating like that, they would be bankrupt within a year. So, the states are all crying that they are broke while paying assistants to government employees upwards of $80,000 per year.

Re:The dangers of stupid taxes (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569942)

Now, for out of state businesses, shouldn't the ONLY real burden be on the transit systems(roads and rails)?

No. Sales taxes go into general coffers are are used to pay for all types of services. Rails are private, we have no nationalized rail in the USA. That leaves roads, and heavy trucks do almost all the damage done to roads by vehicles (the majority of the remainder being done by weather.) Amazon also receives the benefit of police protection; without police, anyone would be free to loot their warehouse. They receive fire protection in that the FD will show up and try to put a fire out if their building is burning. Need I go on?

Re:The dangers of stupid taxes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570122)

>Amazon also receives the benefit of police protection; without police, anyone would be free to loot their warehouse. They receive fire protection in that the FD will show up and try to put a fire out if their building is burning. Need I go on?

Which their warehouse has property taxes, the employees pay income tax on, also the fed-ex and ups charges include fuel costs and taxes.
They pay taxes on their water bill, power bill and heating bills for those facilities. As well. Oh and the fire protection is usually a part of your water bill.

This is about brick and mortar retailers using the tax system to destroy someone they can't compete with. And states that can't control their spending trying to tax Amazon rather than enforce their own use taxes. Oh yeah Amazon can't vote you out, but your voters sure can.

Re:The dangers of stupid taxes (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570238)

Which their warehouse has property taxes, the employees pay income tax on, also the fed-ex and ups charges include fuel costs and taxes.

The fuel costs and taxes are insufficient to cover the cost of the damage done by shipping. On average a semi-tractor with a reefer unit will get about 6-7 mpg, which is a third to a quarter (say) of the mileage of an auto, yet it does more than three or four times the damage that the car would do; The relative damaging effect of an axle is considered to be approximately proportional to the fourth power of the load. [lib.unb.ca] In other words, a 40 ton truck can easily [chicagoboyz.net] cause as much damage to a typical road as 60,000 one-ton cars. Yet they pay only a few times as much in fuel taxes (since that is tied to fuel consumption) and only a few times as much in registration fees. There are several orders of magnitude unaccounted for here. Where do you propose the difference should come from? The pockets of those who live in the same tax region?

Once again, it's the government's fault (2, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569934)

All it would take is for California and New York to each pass a law creating a standardized tax rate for their entire state. No local sales taxes, etc. Just a single state sales tax which is redistributed by the state tax authority to municipal governments. It would then be as easy for Amazon as "cut a check every month and mail it to Sacramento or Albany."

Re:Once again, it's the government's fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570112)

As a one-person self publishing software author, I would prefer a national sales tax. If I had to account for each municipality then I'd probably go out of business just from the paperwork overhead.

They are already doing it! (1)

Katchu (1036242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569968)

Target is operating from within the Amazon world. All taxes are appropriately computed and assessed there.

I wonder if they would like an opt-in program? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30569990)

When you buy something, amazon brings up a page that states:

    We understand that your state, and possibly city and local, governments levy taxes that may include taxes on the things that you purchased. Click here to send a report at the end of the month to the state, city, and local authorities regarding your purchases.

It's then up to the individual to determine if they want the state to take care of the accounting or if they want to do it themselves.

I'm glad everybody's discussing the article... (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570052)

I'm glad everybody's discussing the article... but I have another concern.

What the holy hell is a "horselaugh?"

Re:I'm glad everybody's discussing the article... (1)

Hecatonchires (231908) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570080)

It's like coleslaugh, but with less cole and more horse. Still plenty of cabbage and mayo.

Welcome to the future. (2, Insightful)

jonpublic (676412) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570082)

Where every single tiny loop hole in the law is exploited to the fullest by the large cooperations and everyone else has to obey the spirit of the law because they can't setup the giant shell game that is required to avoid paying taxes. How many fully owned separate legal entities comprise Amazon? It's all one giant cooperation for all intents but they break it up into a ton of little pieces to get around the spirit of the law. Leaving everyone else to have to make up for Amazon skips out on paying. It's not a level playing field.

It reminds me of the ownership structure of Ikea, which is extremely complex, but ultimately results in almost no taxes. Which is great for Ikea, but horrible for everyone else who has to pick up Ikea's share.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IKEA [wikipedia.org]

Look it up under corporate structure.

Re:Welcome to the future. (1)

jonpublic (676412) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570140)

Ikea is worse than I remember. The nonprofit ownership gave away 1.7 million dollars in 2004 and has a net worth of 36 billion.

That's .005%

You probably give a larger % to charity by just walking by a Salvation Army ringer once or twice during the holidays.

Taxless (3, Interesting)

Plugh (27537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570108)

And then there are states like New Hampshire [freestateproject.org] , with no state sales tax (and no state income tax, either)
I guess these dying dinosaur newspapers will concentrate their efforts where governments are largest and extract the most wealth from the serfs.

The press is self-interested on this topic (5, Insightful)

giladpn (1657217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570136)

The NY Times and other paper publications are right now on a crusade to attack the low cost base of internet business.

They are talking about de-indexing Google for similar reasons.

We should understand the interests behind such attacks.

As someone who purchased ... (1)

d1on1x (790202) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570146)

I read quite a few (not all) comments on this page, but what I cannot understand is why people feel that Amazons defense ("it's too complicated") is valid, when you consider that we are talking about the company who can do magic with their recommendations on a sale-level; people who bought this also bought that, 57% people on this page bought this item, the others went here, combo deals with books you viewed before, etc. You'd think they would be able to come up with a system for the taxes ... wanting to is something completely different.

I can perfectly understand that it's not as simple as the EU system (e.g. I pay 19% VAT), however, it's not fair to claim that on a $9.99 book they have to pay 0.12 here and 0.53 there instantly, since that is most probably not the case in the first place. Amazon has to collect the amounts and send them off every X (month/quarter), same as they do with VAT they collect.

Surprised no one sees the opportunity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570182)

There are lots of comments here about how difficult it would be to charge tax based upon a persons physical location.

At first glance it doesn't seem to difficult. We've had these laws in place in Canada for a long, long time and so I'm used to them. That said, there are a lot of convincing reasons I've read in other posts about how much more complicated it is to tax people in the US than pretty much everywhere else in the world. Not only do you have Federal tax and State tax, but also country and municipal sales taxes, and varying taxes based upon item type (liquor vs tobacco vs books, etc).

So, I can understand someone saying that this is complicated for the smaller retailler.

What I don't understand is why no one is seeing the business opportunity here. It should be relatively simple (data intensive, but programatically simple) to code up some library of tax rates based upon zip code and the nature of the item purchased.

Once you've done the work once, it would be a matter of updating it quarterly with updates from each area's taxation department. Again, programatically simple, but data heavy.

I realize it sounds boring, but keep in mind that companies like Quicken have to do this every year for their taxation software.

It's software that could be very useful, simple to make, but tedious to update. Basically, no one will *want* to do this (so FOSS alternatives will be slim), but everyone has to have it. From what I've seen in the market, this basically translates to "buckets of money in my pockets".

Yes. taxes are a problem more because of their (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570186)

cost to implement and track. they are accounting nightmares to keep up with.

Nothing to see here, move along (1)

Lost+Found (844289) | more than 4 years ago | (#30570244)

So the papers for two jurisdictions who have astronomically fucked themselves with their rampant fiscal incompetence want to steal more money from the private sector.

*Shocker*

I got your tax right here you greedy Jews (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30570270)

Now with my dick in your mouth, you will get the only tax you deserve you greedy paper worshiping cum guzzling kikes.

While you are at it, you can hoard my nuts in your mouth too. Go ahead and push me to make all my purchases from an online store in ANOTHER COUNTRY so your pissant failing Empire has more of your precious unbacked money flowing out and damn near none flowing in with Imperial businesses either leaving or failing in droves. Lost jobs and more bankruptcies leading to a guaranteed double great depression, but what do you leech Jews care so long as you got your gold and paper to worship?

Stupid greedy Jews, always fucking everything up. Why oh why wasn't the holocaust real? Why oh fucking why can't there be a real one but eliminate every single Jewish parasite off of humanity's back forever so we are no longer crippled and held back by paper worshiping greedy hoarding parasites???

Jews: Cancer of progress and plague of humanity.

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