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Amazon Prevails In State Sales Tax Dispute, Thus Far

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the so-about-your-anarchist-cookbook dept.

Privacy 171

snsh writes "A US judge has ruled for Amazon.com (PDF) against North Carolina's request to turn over the names of its customers to state tax officials. The ruling was focused on privacy grounds, so the state can still re-request less detailed sales data which does not identify items purchased." Reader arbitraryaardvark adds a link to The Volokh Conspiracy's take on the decision.

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Good for us Sellers (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036060)

The outcome of this case affects not just Amazon, but also its sellers.

"No taxation without representation" is the principle. Why should I be subject to taxation by a foreign government (Carolina) when I have no voice in their legislature? It makes as little sense as saying a Frenchman should have to pay income tax to the Polish government. My allegiance is to MD and US..... any other governments have zero authority over me.

Re:Good for us Sellers (4, Insightful)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036082)

Sure they don't have any authority over you (unless your government says they do and extradites your ass) but they do have authority over anything you do in their territory, like transferring goods.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

Quantus347 (1220456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036148)

And then there are us louts who actually live in North Carolina, and who did not go through the hassle of anonymous purchases, and will have to deal with the Tax fallout from this bickering. We're the ones who will have to pay the cost for the taxing "at the highest possible rate." Im not trying to hide bdsm book purchase here, I just want to get my copy of the Dresden Files without too much hassle. Is that so wrong?

Re:Good for us Sellers (4, Informative)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036594)

No, since you put all those purchases on your state income tax return and paid use tax on them at the appropriate rate it won't affect you at all.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

wastedlife (1319259) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037742)

So states should be allowed to tax interstate commerce as long as they change the name?

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 3 years ago | (#34038018)

Perhaps you haven't been paying attention, but the Court already took up that issue.

Yes, a state may tax an interstate sale of goods received in its territory so long as the tax is no greater than the sales tax that would apply if the sale took place entirely within the state. If the use tax were higher, it would be an illegal restraint on interstate commerce, but up to that point it is not.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34037396)

I just want to get my copy of the Dresden Files without too much hassle. Is that so wrong?

If "without too much hassle" means "without paying the proper taxes in my own home state", then yes, that is wrong. Unlike amazon, which is indeed not represented and thus has a case for arguing against being taxed, YOU are, so if you don't like it, write to your local MP, send letters to the newspapers, whatever - but don't just arbitrarily decide to not pay the taxes you're legally required to pay and then come whining when you might have to pay after all at a later date.

Re:Good for us Sellers (0, Flamebait)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036368)

I live in a state where it's perfectly legal to sell someone an AK-47 at a gun show without even checking their ID, but they scream bloody murder if someone buys a used CD through Amazon and doesn't pay state sales tax.

Re:Good for us Sellers (4, Interesting)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036716)

I live in a state where it's perfectly legal to sell someone an AK-47 at a gun show without even checking their ID

Which is a bald-faced lie. Fully automatic weapons require a Federal Firearms License, which overrides any more permissive state law regarding them.

Unless you're referring to a semi-automatic rifle that shares parts with an AK-47? If so, then why should you have to show an ID?

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036788)

The Saiga is the AK-47 variant that's used for civilians - semi automatic.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037692)

It's a gun that shares a lot of characteristics, but it's NOT an AK-47. An AK-47 is a select-fire fully automatic rifle. Once you remove that feature you change the defining characterisitc of the rifle. Heck the A in AK stands for Avtomat - Russian for Automatic.

Once that feature is removed you simply have a semi-automatic rifle, much like the Browning BAR, Remington 74x series, and many other rifles that few would bat an eye at. Should there be an uproar becase the Saiga (and other civilian market rifles of the type such as the WASR) externally LOOKS like an AK-47?

I swear if most gun-grabers had their way "scary looking" would be on the list of criteria by which we use to ban certain guns.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036524)

>>>they do have authority over anything you do in their territory, like transferring goods.

Hence the "use tax". The customers I sell to in North Carolina are subject to NC laws, and are required to pay a use tax (6%) on their purchased items.

I on the other hand, having never set foot in NC and having no representative in their legislature, am NOT subject to their laws. Again: No taxation w/o representation.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036858)

Sadly, you're 100% correct.

I say "sadly" because the vast majority of the public who shop online and aren't charged sales tax by the vendor will never give a second's thought to this. If/when local states can force the vendors to provide this information, the states will see it as a windfall of much needed funds.

If they're going to start getting such info, I hope the court does something like say that FROM THIS POINT FORWARD, any purchase (tax) information will be made available to the destination state, and the vendors are required to inform customers using a big notice at checkout that their local state will be notified of the purchase and that they're liable for local/state use tax.

That way, you get the "ok, fine, you got away with it up till now, but no further"

Folks will alter their online spending habits accordingly.

Frankly, I think the success of online sales should be a strong indication of just how stifling sales taxes are to the economy.

I think it's fundamentally wrong for an online vendor to be forced to keep track of 50 states' tax laws. It's also kind of "entrappy" to have folks feeling like online sales == tax free then coming down on them for back taxes and penalties like a ton of bricks. Yeah, I know, technically the end user has always been responsible under "use tax" laws in many states, but it's one of those things where nobody's ever heard of anyone ever having to "pay the piper".

Seriously, if they want to work out something going forward, great, but it needs to apply to ALL online merchants equally without imposing an undue burden, and in my opinion, it needs to NOT allow retroactive action.

As much as I hate sales tax, I'd rather see some kind of federal one for online transactions... make the value be the average of all state sales tax rates, then divide the money between all the states with some kind of accounting for population or gross online sales delivered to the given state. TO make that work, states would have to agree to allow any online sales even for businesses with brick and mortar presences in-state selling to customers in-state to use the national rate.

It would make for some interesting dynamics: New Hampshire with no state sales tax would get a windfall, and some folks in state would physically go to local merchants to get a tax-free purchase... they'd still get a boost from out of staters coming in to get around the system (if you go to Best Buy in Nashua and buy something expensive with cash, then go home to MA, they're not going to be able to nail you for use tax unless there's some kind of border search).

Meanwhile, states that have high sales taxes may feel that they're losing money to online sales, but if you consider that they'd be getting a crap-ton of income from online sales that they were previously missing out on, I bet it would work out just fine in the long run.

I know it's actually way more complicated than that, but my point is that there are ways to allow states to collect their taxes without suddenly surprising taxpayers with big bills and/or criminal charges for doing something that "everyone" was doing.

It would be like suddenly getting a speeding ticket from every time you ever drove over the limit in the past N years when no cops were watching. Yeah, technically you were braking the law and you technically deserve to be ticketed, but had you been aware that Big Brother was able to track this, you would have had the chance to change your driving habits.

Re:Good for us Sellers (2, Insightful)

gtall (79522) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037384)

Just to be a prick, if you are a firm retail stores in 50 states, you must keep up with 50 state laws. Internet retailers are no different. We have computers to figure out the tax, take the money from the credit card companies, and pay the internet retailers' current tax bill. I admit it will cost them some money to get the changes in their systems which will handle the state taxes. The real problem is not going to be places like Amazon which can afford the expense. The real problem will be Ma and Pop internet sales. This will be a new problem since Ma and Pop previously were very local.

Requiring states to keep up with the deluge of data is also an expense to be born by the taxpayers as the states' systems will need to be upgraded. And it will be a continuing expense since they'll then have to keep records of every internet retail transaction. New internet stores pop up and go bankrupt all the time, that will also make things more complicated.

Between the two sets of problems, I tend to think the first is easier to solve. And I don't think it is an answer to say that no internet sales tax should be charged because it puts brick and mortar stores at a disadvantage. Also, many states have their finances built in part around sales taxes.

Another way to go is for the Federal Government to institute country-wide sales tax for internet purchases. Then it must disburse the proceeds among the states according to some formula. Maybe use the states' current tax rates to apportion the pie. That would at least centralize the problem...and open more political problems. But there's a solution to that too, shoot the politicians.

Re:Good for us Sellers (2, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037634)

...I don't think it is an answer to say that no internet sales tax should be charged because it puts brick and mortar stores at a disadvantage. Also, many states have their finances built in part around sales taxes.
Brick and mortars already have a disadvantage of having to maintain inventory and an expensive storefront. Lack of Internet sales tax would not be an issue to them if people would pay their use tax.It's not the internet creating the problem, it is the citizens.
It is not some company in Iowa's responsibility to make sure that I pay my Oklahoma Use Tax. That is Oklahoma's responsibility.
The big problem is that it would cost more money to make sure people paid their Use Tax then they would actually receive from Use Tax. That is why they haven't been rigorously enforcing it. But if they can get some other poor shmoe who has no representation in this state to collect it for them, then they are all for it.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037746)

The thing that you are overlooking is that in several states, sales tax rate varies from location to location. In NY each county and municipality may charge a different rate (within a particular range). This is not something that can be determined by zip code. You have to know which municipality a specific address is in.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037568)

I think it's fundamentally wrong for an online vendor to be forced to keep track of 50 states' tax laws.
As do I. I don't think people understand that it is not just 50 things to keep track of. There are state, county, and in some cases even city taxes. My state has a downloadable format for vendors to update their records. It contains over 100,000 taxing districts. Keeping track of 50 state's worth of taxing districts would cripple anybody except the really huge sites. If interstate internet traffic were to be forced to collect sales tax, it may actually create a whole new industry: providing tax information at Point of Sale time.

Re:Good for us Sellers (5, Interesting)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037852)

Absolutely.

I host an online store for a friend - she used to set up booths at conventions and such but due to health reasons, she is now completely online. (used to do mail order too as it was a niche product, but nobody does mail order anymore). She's having enough trouble just complying with PCI standards. She freaked out when she first saw the questionnaires and I had to spend quite a bit of time going through it and explaining what was meant and spent a lot of time tweaking server and application to meet the PCI standard (it asks for mostly common sense stuff, but is worded with some absolutes that mean that a technically secure compensating measure doesn't qualify you to answer YES/NO to a given question, but I digress)

The point is that she's a friend and I essentially put in quite a few billable hours pro-bono. However, PCI compliance was a walk in the park compared to what we'd have to do should she be required to deal with all those tax jurisdictions you mentioned. She would not be able to afford it with her sales and I'm at my limit (even with a friend) for how much time I'm willing/able to give away.

I custom wrote her shopping cart and checkout system, and before anyone says it, at the time I wrote it, there was NOTHING available on the market that met her needs and she could afford.
  YES we could probably rebuild her site using something commercial or FOSS today, but she still can't afford what it would cost to do the conversion. In my opinion, such a complex mess of tax jurisdictions would force mom and pop type places offline or force them to pay big vendors for their carts/checkouts.

That might not seem like the end of the world, but it feels like yet another barrier to entry... over time, the more regulatory and statutory hurdles businesses and individuals have to negotiate in order to go online will destroy a lot of the freedom and openness that made the Internet so fertile a place for speech and innovation in the first place.

Re:Good for us Sellers (5, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036562)

like transferring goods.

Conducting business transactions and transferring goods to someone out of state is called interstate commerce. And the supreme law of the land says that the power to regulate interstate commerce belongs exclusively to the US congress, and specifically indicates that states do not have the power to lay tarrifs, duties, imposts, or otherwise tax imports.

In other words.. no... the foreign state doesn't have authority or power to regulate you transferring goods into their state; that authority has been explicitly reserved for the feds.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036680)

True indeed... in fact if you remember your history lessons, this is one of the big reasons the Articles of Confederation failed...

Re:Good for us Sellers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036136)

They are not taxing YOU, idiot, they want to tax your customers in NC territory which they are completely in the right to do...

Re:Good for us Sellers (2, Insightful)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037668)

They are not taxing YOU, idiot, they want to tax your customers in NC territory which they are completely in the right to do...
That is correct, and I encourage them to do so, but they can't ask me to collect that tax for them because I am not subject to their laws. Now, if they were to allow me to keep part of that sales tax to compensate for my effort in keeping track of their laws, then that would be a matter. Something on the order of 500% would be appropriate, to deal with all of the taxing districts in their state.

Re:Good for us Sellers (2, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036150)

I think we should tax all foreigners not living in this country.

Re:Good for us Sellers (5, Funny)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036216)

I think I speak for all foreigners when I say that America is already very taxing.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

satcomjimmy (1228562) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037438)

I think I speak for all foreigners when I say that America is already very taxing.

You speak for a growing percentage of Americans as well.

Re:Good for us Sellers (2, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036154)

In the EU they charge VAT according to the rate of the country where the destiny of the goods is.

Re:Good for us Sellers (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036252)

>In the EU they charge VAT according to the rate of the country where the destiny of the goods is.

In the EU, they charge VAT according to the rate of the country to which the goods are destined.

English motherfucker. Learn it.

Re:Good for us Sellers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036306)

That was proper English... just not proper American English.

Re:Good for us Sellers (3, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036702)

English motherfucker. Learn it.

LOL, you just called him an "English motherfucker."

Mr. pot, meet mister kettle.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036314)

as bas as it sounds your tax code is far simpler than ours for sales.

depending on the good and your EXACT address you can have

Federal
State
County
City/Town
Fellowship

All cumulative - and they can very a lot.. where i live it comes out to be ~7.5% on normal goods 2.5% on foods like fresh veggies and 8% on sodas.

Making Amazon a company not from this area have to keep track of that is stupid - instead it is my responsibly as a citizen to buggy up and pay the tax at the end of the year.

What NC is trying to do is get the list of people and goods and prices so they can then send nasty grams out to the people to pay their tax on it + a surcharge/late fee i'm sure.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037988)

Yup, where I am at soda in a bottle is tax-free, and soda in a cup is 6%, but a few miles down the road that soda in a cup is 7%.

Everybody and their uncle in the US has the right to levy taxes. I'm surprised homeowner associations aren't doing it. :)

Re:Good for us Sellers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036478)

In the EU they charge VAT according to the rate of the country where the destiny of the goods is.

In the EU you pay VAT only once. It doesn't matter if it's in the seller's or the buyer's country. At least that's what the German customs office told me.

There might be special regulations for non-physical, licensed wares but I'm not sure about that.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036176)

"No taxation without representation" is the principle. Why should I be subject to taxation by a foreign government (Carolina) when I have no voice in their legislature?

No, this principle is that one state may not tax the residents & businesses of another state, or force the residents & businesses of another state to comply with its laws.

Re:Good for us Sellers (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036560)

>>>No, this principle is that one state may not tax the residents & businesses of another state, or force the residents & businesses of another state to comply with its laws.

No?
Isn't that what "no taxation without representation" means?
Residents of other states have no voice in NC's legislature.
Therefore NC has no authority over them.

Re:Good for us Sellers (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036786)

No?
Isn't that what "no taxation without representation" means?
Residents of other states have no voice in NC's legislature.
Therefore NC has no authority over them.

That isn't the point. If Amazon actually charged the NC sales tax, Amazon would have to remit the sales tax revenue to the government of NC. Amazon would not keep the tax. Amazon would not pay the tax, it is the customers in NC that would pay the tax. Amazon would simply be the tax collector.

The point is the government of NC does not have the legal authority to force an out-of-state company to become a tax collector for NC.

That is interstate commerce, which under Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the US Constitution falls under the control of the US Congress, not the government of NC:

[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;

Re:Good for us Sellers (4, Insightful)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036206)

The outcome of this case affects not just Amazon, but also its sellers.

"No taxation without representation" is the principle. Why should I be subject to taxation by a foreign government (Carolina) when I have no voice in their legislature? It makes as little sense as saying a Frenchman should have to pay income tax to the Polish government. My allegiance is to MD and US..... any other governments have zero authority over me.

Nonsense.

The taxes are paid by the customers, not by the sellers. As the customers reside (and purchase) in the state, they must pay.

Notice also that TFS does not say anything like that... it just says that the state has no right to know if someone bought "Alice in Wonderland" or "How to make home bombs" or "Meth cooking for dummies". I think it is a good point to defend, but the issue of taxation itself has not been reviewed, as it is emphasized in the summary.

Also, I'd like to play a little with your "No taxation without representation". Are you suggesting that when a convinted felon loses his/her right to vote, s/he also loses his/her duty to pay taxes? Maybe crime pays, after all.

So... any comments other than "I do not like to pay taxes"?

Re:Good for us Sellers (5, Insightful)

redhog (15207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036366)

Why should convicted felons lose the right to vote? What really is the point? Once the sentence is served, the convict should be considered a free man again, with the same rights and responsibilities. If that is deemed inappropriate, he should still be in prison. Why have second class citizenship?

Re:Good for us Sellers (4, Interesting)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036516)

Agreed. One of the more bizarre laws the US has that seems certain to incite continual negaitve feelings towards a government you can never participate in.

Utterly stupid

Conviced Felons (1)

standbypowerguy (698339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036528)

I believe felons only lose their right to vote while their sentence is in effect. Once they have served their time, including parole if any, I believe their right to vote is restored. However, IANAF (I am not a felon) so I don't have any direct experience with this.

Re:Conviced Felons (2, Informative)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036668)

Whether felons have the right to vote & the restrictions posed on them is a state matter.

Only 2 states, Kentucky & Virginia, deny felons the right to vote for the rest of their lives, although Kentucky has a process to restore that right. Other states disallow voting for felons in prison, on probation, on parole, etc.--just depends on the state. Maine & Vermont allow felons to vote while in prison. Oddly, "felony disenfranchisement" laws have been found to be constitutional .

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felony_disenfranchisement [wikipedia.org]

Re:Conviced Felons (1)

crosstalk (78439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036688)

depends on the state.some its after the sentence, some it is after a set time when your probation is done

Re:Conviced Felons (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036982)

The laws vary by state.

Re:Good for us Sellers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036564)

Because they are second-class asswipes who have violated the law. And felons lose many more rights other than voting.

The Constitution expressly provides that states may restrict convicted criminals from voting. The Constitution also expressly permits both the state and federal governments to impose many requirements on the right to vote, including requiring a high school diploma or military service.

Re:Good for us Sellers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036610)

Because in this country, we are setting up a permanent underclass.

You take away a felon's right to vote, and keep them on all sorts of "think of the childrren" lists virtually for life, and nobody will hire them, so they have very few legit options and end up back in the prison system, confirming society's belief that they are doing the right thing by "getting tough on crime". Then we get "three strikes" laws and these folks go away forever for real.

You can thank private for-profit prison companies - they and their bought and paid for politicians get to look all "tough on crime" while lining their pockets with taxpayer money and the general public is so scared of all the criminals that they just about beg these companies to take more of their money to build more prisons.

Maybe nobody ~planned~ it that way, but human nature/greed has pretty much led us here.

The good news is that if you're white and middle-to-upper class, are innocent of what they charged you with, and you can afford a real lawyer, you can probably avoid the worst of it... though you'll be financially ruined.

Posting anon because there may be some folks who take extreme offense when they're given a glimpse of the man behind the curtain.

Re:Good for us Sellers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036764)

I don't think the franchise should be removed from those in prison or those who have been convicted of a felony. When you think about it it's about as silly as not having felons pay taxes. But there are some complications here. Prisoners are counted as residents of the where they are held, not the area they are from. So their vote would be concentrated in small towns where they outnumber the rest of the population by a large margin. They might vote for the candidate that promises to close the schools and redirect all local property taxes to sprucing up the prison. Something that extreme probably wouldn't happen, but their interests wouldn't align very well with the other local residents. The only sane thing to do is count them as residents of the place they are from, like college students and those working oversees can choose to be counted. But then small towns lose the biggest incentive for favoring a state or federal prison in their town, the large transfer of funds into their local coffers as a place having a large population with a small income. This means there is a serious road-block to ending this disenfranchisement as there are financial losers involved, and no concrete financial gain for anyone (the places that would no longer automatically be transferring aid to these towns as poor towns, would balk at transferring 'prison aid' to those same towns, but it would be more expensive to house the prisoners locally, so in the end the would pay more per prisoner.)

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that while the ideals are clearcut, the implementation is not as simple as one might think. The same applies for taxes on out-of-state sellers. On ideals some people believe taxes should only be paid locally, others that out-of-state sellers should pay taxes as if the purchase were in state, and still others that the money should be split half way. But the problem is that there are thousands of localities which decide how to tax different categories differently. Even local sellers often make mistakes with the one set of rates they need to apply. If you were to tax everyone like this then the cost of categorizing an item might would be so high as to make the long tail unprofitable, which defeats a major societal advantage internet selling has over traditional selling. But taxing local sellers and not internet sellers subsidizes internet sellers, which is no longer an appropriate policy goal. I have not mentioned other advantages each set of sellers has but I take it as a given that each has their own merits and neither should be taxed out of existence. One solution to this unfairness is to eliminate sales and use taxes, but this would require large increases in other taxes and there may even be good reason to prefer sales taxes in some cases. It's unclear to me what the solution is (though I have more opinions than expressed here), but I'm pretty certain this is something congress needs to hash out; regulating interstate commerce is one of their core mandates and this problem can't be solved by the states themselves.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036882)

Because it is part of the punishment. Most felony convictions are regarding violent or property crimes. These are not simply crimes against individual people. They are crimes against the society as a whole and the norms and ideals it upholds. By committing crimes of this type, you are saying you no longer wish to be part of this society and, as such, you no longer have the right to the privilege that is voting. You say that, once they get out and are free, they should have all rights restored. Why? Because it is "fair"?. I'm sorry, but the world does not work this way. In the real world actions, and even simple mistakes made through youth, can have long-term, serious consequences. You also have to remember that, by removing the convicts ability to vote, we are not CREATING second class citizens. They are CHOOSING to become so. It is not coming from birth, station, race, religion, or creed. It is coming from willful action on their part.

Re:Good for us Sellers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34037596)

because it makes it easier to keep blacks from votin

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036568)

The taxes are paid by the customers, not by the sellers. As the customers reside (and purchase) in the state, they must pay.

I don't think this part of it was ever an issue. The problem is that states now want Amazon to collect that tax, effectively making it a tax on them, rather than the customers.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036584)

Also, I'd like to play a little with your "No taxation without representation". Are you suggesting that when a convinted felon loses his/her right to vote, s/he also loses his/her duty to pay taxes? Maybe crime pays, after all.

Wow, way to red herring this right off a cliff. "No taxation without representation" was not invented by a slashdot poster, it was the idea behind the boston tea party, where taxes were being sent to England and the colonies were being ruled remotely with having much say in the way they were ruled. It doesn't mean they were mad at not being able to vote. In context, commodore64_love was making a parallel between England ruling the colonies and one state trying to tax people in another state, where they have no rights. I happen to disagree, in that purchases made in the state are subject to taxation in the same way that I don't show my national identity card to someone when I'm out of state to show that I don't have to pay their local sales tax. You buy there, you pay the tax there, as you said.

You made a point and then took part of the original completely out of context. If you have a social contract in your state which revokes your right to vote when you break the law, and you break the law, the state is required to enforce its punishment. You can disagree with it, but that's the law. Being a felon doesn't mean you suddenly require no government services, which is where taxes go. You broke the law, you have shown your community you can't be trusted, and from that perspective it makes sense the you would not have any influence on how you are governed. From that perspective, not necessarily that I agree with it either. You lost your right to representation through your own actions in accordance with the law, not by government denying law-abiding citizens their representation.

Really, you could have had a nice point, but you had to go for the extra dig?

Also, I do not like to pay taxes, for the record.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036598)

>>>The taxes are paid by the customers, not by the sellers.

Okay yes you're right, but why do I have to comply with NC Law? They are a foreign government to me, and they have ZERO authority to order me to file a tax return. Just as China or Canada has zero authority to order me.

NC might pass a law that says, "You must collect 6% tax and remit the money to us by April 15 each year," but I am not bound to obey.
Fuck them.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036784)

China or Canada doesn't have zero authority over you if you go to their territory and make a purchase on a shop there, regardless of you being a citizen or not of the country.

Likewise, when you make a purchase on a shop located on NC, you are "going there" (figuratively, in case of digital purchases) and buying something on a shop located in their territory.

Now, if sending TCP/IP packets to their territory is the same as physically going there is subjective, but it's not absurd to consider it true.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036832)

Ok, I've misunderstood the problem. Disregard my comment.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037412)

If I set up a brick and morter in my home state and someone from NC buys something at it, they bought it in MY state, not NC. That is fairly clear. NC may have laws applying to it's citizens that say they must declare that to them for tax purposes, but I am not one of those citizens.

If I build my store in NC, then they may apply their tax law to me.

From a practical perspective, there's a zillion little towns all with their zillion tax laws. Nobody can even keep track of them all much less deal with the paperwork. In principle there is no difference between states demanding tax compliance from businesses in other states and towns doing the same. Shall we just put a stop to inter-state commerce entirely?

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036616)

The taxes are paid by the customers, not by the sellers. As the customers reside (and purchase) in the state, they must pay.

It sounds like they are attempting to intimidate residents of their own state and make an end run around the constitution, which reserves the power to regulate interstate commerce explicitly for the US congress, and explicitly denies the states the power to lay tarrifs or taxes on interstate commerce.

In other words, states trying to "tax the customer", regarding the amount they paid in these 'interstate commerce' transactions, would seem on its face to be something the states trying to do it should get severely penalized for by the USG. The states don't even have a right to regulate that the dollar amount or existence of an interstate commerce transaction be told to them, let alone tax it.

Specifically: the courts should declare this unconstitutional, and order the states that collected this fraudulent tax to return these unjustly obtained gains to the taxpayers who they were extorted from.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

bongey (974911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037068)

You just pulled a logical fallacy, a red herron. You pulled something into the conversation that does not address the main point, just smear the blood across the road. "No taxation without representation" was one of the founding principles of why this country was formed, dismissing this and pulling in some offshoot of argument did nothing to address the point he was making. The interstate commerce clause of the US Constitution is 'suppose' to guard against this. My wife is a CPA tax accountant , and they are very interested in this case, and this is how she tells me it is suppose to work. You are 'supposed' to file with your local state that you bought the items and pay sales tax that way, not some foreign state doing it, but nobody ever does this.Example I bought a car in Missouri, I payed no sales to Missouri, I did pay sales tax when I registered in Ohio and the taxes were payed to Ohio. Nor can foreign state tell say NC tell a company in anther state they must collect sales tax for them or make them do something along those line. Amazon has no obligation to do this for NC.It is a federal issue , not a state issue.

Re:Good for us Sellers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036358)

The outcome of this case affects not just Amazon, but also its sellers.

Not just amazon and/or it's affiliates but EVERY online retailer.

Can you imagine having to worry about the ever-changing tax laws across all 50 states (and Federal)?

Though I think the major online retailers secretly want this sort of legislation - they have the legal/accounting departments to deal with it and it would drive the smaller players out of business.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036566)

A French person pays Polish VAT if they buy something in Poland (whether online from a Polish business, or in a shop in Poland).

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036812)

>>>A French person pays Polish VAT if they buy something in Poland

Which should not be. Let's suppose the Polish government goes slightly mad, and raises the Polish VAT to 50%. How is the French person supposed to protest that? He has no voice in the polish legislature to say, "That's ridiculously high." The french citizen is powerless to change the law/tax that he is subject to.

QED - no representation == no authority. The polish government has no (legitimate) authority over non-polish residents.
At least that's how it works here in the U.S.
Only the union government can tax across borders.

motels? rental cars? (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037104)

Tell this to all the local governments that have jumped on the bandwagon of taxing travelers to the max. It is infuriating to be hit with a 19% sales tax on a rental car and motel room when everything else is taxed at 9% or less. But they're all doing it, and all at slightly different rates.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037572)

>>>A French person pays Polish VAT if they buy something in Poland

Which should not be. Let's suppose the Polish government goes slightly mad, and raises the Polish VAT to 50%. How is the French person supposed to protest that?

By not buying things from Poland.

"No taxation without representation" is a different issue. Imports and exports to America were taxed, and the money taken by the UK. In the French-Poland case, exports are being taxed by Poland, and in a Polish-France case exports are being taxed by France.

Are you aware that if you shop in Poland you can reclaim the VAT you've paid once you leave the EU and return to the USA? Just keep hold of the receipts and show the goods (to prove you're exporting them) at the airport.
If I shop in the USA then I must pay all taxes, and I can't reclaim them once I return to the EU (UK). However, I can reclaim Canadian tax.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037714)

A French person pays Polish VAT if they buy something in Poland (whether online from a Polish business, or in a shop in Poland).

That's only the case if the business is VAT registered. If it's not VAT registered business, then the person doesn't have to pay VAT.

Re:Good for us Sellers (2, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036582)

How exactly does whether Amazon has to send details of NC customers to the NC government affect sellers? And how does it have anything to do with you being subject to taxation?

Sure NC is trying to do that, but this particular ruling has nothing to do with it at all.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036860)

>>>How exactly does whether Amazon has to send details of NC customers to the NC government affect sellers?

Knowing how amazon operates, they'll probably make US do the paperwork ("remember to file your NC list of your customers by April 15"), and I don't feel like it.

What on earth are you babbling about? (1)

apparently (756613) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036776)

You keep mentioning "no taxation without representation" in comment after comment, because you don't live in North Carolina, but the issue in question is specifically about North Carolina trying to collect sales tax from North Carolina residents.

From the friggin judgment:

As part of an audit of Amazon, the DOR, whose secretary is Defendant Lay, sent a request on December 1, 2009 to Amazon seeking “‘all information for all sales to customers with a North Carolina shipping address by month in an electronic format for all dates between August 1, 2003, and February 28, 2010.”

So I honestly ask: what on earth are you babbling about? Or do you just like citing 'Merican phrases at random regardless if they're appropriate to the circumstances in question?

Re:What on earth are you babbling about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036990)

You keep mentioning "no taxation without representation" in comment after comment, because you don't live in North Carolina, but the issue in question is specifically about North Carolina trying to collect sales tax from North Carolina residents.

No, that isn't the issue. The government of NC has every right to tax its residents. No one is claiming otherwise.

The government of NC has the legal power to force an in-state company to assist the government of NC in taxing its residents. No one is claiming otherwise.

But the government of NC does not have the legal power to force an out-of-state company (Amazon) to assist the government of NC in taxing its residents. That is the issue.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

allcar (1111567) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037038)

It makes as little sense as saying a Frenchman should have to pay income tax to the Polish government.

Via the magic of the EU, that's exactly what happens, isn't it. The Frenchman pays his taxes to the French government, who then give it away to the EU, who then donate it to the poorer governments, such as Poland.

SCOTUS does not agree with you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34037846)

SCOTUS already denied certiorari in the case of HUCKABY v. NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF TAX APPEALS http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ny-supreme-court/1191744.html [findlaw.com] .

"[T]he State's power to tax *** activities is justified by the 'protection, opportunities and benefits' the State confers on those activities'" (Allied-Signal, Inc. v. Director, Div. of Taxation, 504 U.S. 768, 778, 112 S.Ct. 2251, 119 L.Ed.2d 533 [1992], quoting Wisconsin v. J.C. Penney Co., 311 U.S. 435, 444, 61 S.Ct. 246, 85 L.Ed. 267 [1940]).

So.... (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037876)

no taxation without representation eh?

will you exempt minors from paying sales tax?
will you exempt h1-b visa holders from paying income tax?
will you exempt corporations from all taxes?
will you exempt people who order things from the US from any export duty?

your argument while grandiose and part of all Americans common heritage, is not workable.
it is too simple.
Yes, you can argue that corporations have representation via Lobbying (and I think they do as well)
Same as the British argued that the members of the 'colonies' had such available representation.

If you want to make any process/decision/methodolgy based on the logic contained in FLAT EMPHATIC STATEMENTS,
you have to be willing to apply it in all situations.

So, do you want 'taxation without representation' or do you want a complex set of circumstances.

By the way- I don't believe states should be able to charge taxes across states like this
I think states should be separate socio-economic islands of policy, with an eye towards a sort of darwinistic economic effect.

(with great thanks to Lois McMaster Bujold for the origin of the following for me)

Stodgy states will lose business, residents, and corporate presence

Competitive & changing states will see an influx of new capital

The Carolinas & other non-presence states provide nothing for Amazon for the 'tax revenue'
The framework of delievery of goods however, is something those states benefit by.
UPS & Fedex buy fuel locally, (with taxes attached) and coincidentally employ citizens in connection with the delievry of goods.

If a state wants a piece of the business, they can create an enviroment where Amazon wants to give them a piece.

I agree with your resolution, I strongly disagree with your argument.

Re:Good for us Sellers (1)

LBDobbs (555102) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037934)

"No taxation without representation" is the principle.

Except that sales/use tax (which is what this case started out as) is paid by the buyer, not the seller. That means the person paying the tax is represented. The interesting question then becomes can a local jurisdiction require a seller who has no physical presence in that jurisdiction collect and deliver the taxes

Does selling to a customer in that local jurisdiction count as "doing business" in that jurisdiction. This has been to the courts over the years. I don't remember any of the cases anymore, but I have a vague memory of this same issue coming up from catalog sales. In all those cases, the courts ruled in the sellers favor if the seller did not have a physical presence in the buyer's state. It is considered an undo burden on the seller to be held responsible for charging and collecting sales/use tax for all the possible jurisdictions.

Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036068)

Why do so many of them seek to avoid paying their taxes, then?

For the record, I love that Amazon.com doesn't collect sales taxes. It doesn't matter if you're talking about state or federal government - they both are continually seeking to make you scale back your lifestyle so they don't have to. How about we dismantle the welfare state like Europe is being forced to do? Why don't we do it now before it becomes too painful later, as France is finding out?

Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036098)

Because, you silly goose, there are yachts and mansions and wickedly expensive dinners at four-star restaurants to be bought on your dime. C'mon, take one (or ten) for the team so the corrupt shitheads who run this joint can live comfortably while they cackle all the way to the bank.

Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (5, Interesting)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036194)

There's a difference between seeking to avoid paying their taxes (finding shelters, etc. like Google), and refusing to help the state violate the interstate commerce clause (like Amazon is doing here).

Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036464)

How about we dismantle the welfare state like Europe is being forced to do?

Because most of Medicare and Social Security -- the only entitlements large enough to put a dent in the budget -- are collected disproportionately by retired people, who in turn are A) a growing demographic and B) vote very reliably, relative to just about any other demographic.

Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036558)

The problem is that we need politicians who are willing to fall on the entitlement grenade and be guaranteed of losing reelection - you know, true public servants instead of self-servants. We already have a commander-in-chief and a Congress that doesn't give a shit about public opinion. Too bad they're all about creating new entitlements instead of scaling them back...

Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036608)

We already have a commander-in-chief and a Congress that doesn't give a shit about public opinion.

Would that be the same commander-in-chief who campaigned very clearly on doing pretty much all the things he's done?

Because see, the way we actually track public opinion in this country is by having elections.

Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036956)

>>>Because see, the way we actually track public opinion in this country is by having elections.

Not true. We also track public opinion via Citizens' calls to the Congressional representatives. In October 2008 the phones were overloaded with citizens saying, "Vote No on the bailout bill," and it passed anyway. Then the same thing happened again in the week prior to the Healthcare Reform Bill ("vote no") and it passed anyway. The calls were approximately 75% and 70% against these bills.

So the previous poster is correct. The Democrat-supermajority Congress is ignoring the constituents - you might as well not bother calling, because they won't listen anyway.

Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037114)

Not true. We also track public opinion via Citizens' calls to the Congressional representatives.

We could track things that way, but since people will always be more fired up and likely to call against rather than for something, that would be a stupid way of doing it.

Elections have worked for America (for some value of worked) for over 200 years. It's good enough for anyone who doesn't hate the Constitution.

Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34037806)

>>>Because see, the way we actually track public opinion in this country is by having elections.

Not true. We also track public opinion via Citizens' calls to the Congressional representatives. In October 2008 the phones were overloaded with citizens saying, "Vote No on the bailout bill," and it passed anyway. Then the same thing happened again in the week prior to the Healthcare Reform Bill ("vote no") and it passed anyway. The calls were approximately 75% and 70% against these bills.

So the previous poster is correct. The Democrat-supermajority Congress is ignoring the constituents - you might as well not bother calling, because they won't listen anyway.

No, all you just proved is a majority of the callers were people opposed to the bill. Completely different from a majority of the people being opposed to the bill. The people who are happy with the state of affairs rarely call anyone.

Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036728)

We don't have to "kill" Medicare or SS.

We simply need to sell it properly. "In order to save social security and make sure YOU will always be assisted in paying your bills, I propose we eliminate payments to the Rich! The rich don't need help - you do. Time to cut them off from receiving benefits." (crowd cheers) And then install a $5 million cap on lifetime income. If you earned more than that, you are ineligible to receive SS or Medicare checks.

That would help save the system from bankruptcy.
Then in 2020, the cap could be lowered to 3 million... again, to save the system for "you the hard-working middle class".
Then drop it again in 2030 to 1 million.

Eventually over time it will no longer be viewed as an entitlement, but as a Safety Net that excludes the rich, and is only used as a last resort by middle classes. This is how you make change - not all at once, but progressively over time and over decades.

Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037108)

Social Security and medicare damned well better NOT be dismantled. I've been paying into it for forty years for the express purpose of collecting if I manage to survive long enough to collect. FICA is for my social security, and there's a mdeicare tax listed on my pay stub, too.

How about we just take your 401k away when you retire? It's the same damned thing.

Re:Wait! Don't tech companies love Big Brother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34038042)

Social Security and medicare damned well better NOT be dismantled. I've been paying into it for forty years for the express purpose of collecting if I manage to survive long enough to collect. FICA is for my social security, and there's a mdeicare tax listed on my pay stub, too.

How about we just take your 401k away when you retire? It's the same damned thing.

How about you get the same benefits from Social Security and Medicare that you would have gotten had you been paying those paltry taxes into a 401K instead?

Because if you think the payments you made come anywhere near covering the cost of your benefits, you're a loon.

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.

Ammend the constitution already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036348)

The times have changed, and it is time to ammend the constitution with inter-state sales tax.

Our founding fathers could never have envisioned the power of our current transportation and communication systems. Charging interstate sales tax is trivial these days. I do feel the pain of the small businesses online, but there is so much tax evasion going on that this is becoming irrelevant. It is time to end the party. State, county, and local budgets will thank us.

Re:Ammend the constitution already! (2, Insightful)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036426)

Amend the Constitution? Inter-state federally administered taxes?! Good luck getting that through in the current political climate.

Re:Ammend the constitution already! (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036652)

Why not? We've passed many amendments, including stupid ones. Like the banning of alcohol. How in the world that ever managed to get 75% support is a mystery.

Besides amending the Constitution IS the proper method of extending the US Congresses' authority. Otherwise laws will be nullified by the 10th amendment. (Powers not given to the US are reserved to the States or the People.)

Re:Ammend the constitution already! (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036538)

Trust me, looking at how much NJ takes out of my paycheck (and I'm on the lower end of the scale for this area) they should be able to run the state on Income and property taxes alone. Most states have completely unrealistic budgets, rather than adding more tax what needs to be done is trim down the spending.

Re:Ammend the constitution already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036708)

I'm sure you mean spending for other people.

We'll begin with closing off your kids' school and bus transportation and the bridge you're using to drive to work, so that you have to drive a 50 mile detour to drive your kids to a new school.
See how you like it.

Re:Ammend the constitution already! (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036980)

No I mean spending in general, some of which may be in the school system if there is excess there, some of which will be elsewhere. I do find it interesting that you instantly assume I want to slash all the school budgets though...

Pork for the "red states". (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036892)

Your state gets about $0.60 spent on it by the Federal government for every $1.00 contributed in Federal income tax.

I bet if that money was spent in NJ, the budget problem would be easily solved. Same with CA, CT, NY and MA.

But it is being redistributed to states like NM, AZ, MI, MO, NV, etc...

Re:Pork for the "red states". (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036994)

Interesting, where did you find the stats on this? I'm curious to read more.

Re:Ammend the constitution already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34037010)

I'm not really in favor of giving the Federal government anymore power than it already has. They already violate several provisions & amendments (Fourth, second, interstate commerce) of the constitution, either ignoring them or twisting basic English words to mean their polar opposite. And do you really think they'll just give the money they collect to the states? They'll either charge one heck of an "administrative" fee, pump it through grants with massive overhead, waste and restrictions or directly route it directly into pork projects.

Huh.. (4, Interesting)

EasyTarget (43516) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036476)

I must be mis-reading this..

As far as I can tell, all that has been ruled is that the state should not receive a lit of -what- books you have purchased.

Nothing to prevent them knowing the value of the books you have purchased, with the titles redacted, so you can pay your fair share of taxes like the rest of us.

Yet people here seem to be discussing things off at a tangent to this (like whether books should be taxed at all, a totally different subject really), who would have imagined Slashdotters doing that ;-)

Re:Huh.. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036632)

NC Legislature (or Canadian Parliament) (Or Chinese government): "You must compile a list of all your customers and provide them to us."

ME: "No."

The end. These governments have no authority to make me obey their law, because I am not a resident. Neither do I have a voice in their legislature to protest the law. The law I quoted is a nullity. It has zero power over me.

Re:Huh.. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036876)

Actually the government does have power over Amazon.com even if they are not a resident, they have the power to forbid Amazon from conducting business within the confines of the State of North Carolina without a license. Consumers are not exempt from paying sales tax when the item comes from another state, it's the company which is exempt from charging sales tax - according to the current tax code in most states it's the consumer's responsibility to pay the tax anyway (of course this almost never occurs).

The current issue is sales tax, Amazon agreed to providing lists of the lots sold by zip code, but they refused to turn over itemized lists of the items along with their value and the names of the customers who bought them. Lucky for us (and internet commerce) the courts sided with Amazon. The real big-picture issue, which hasn't been addressed yet, is that the Federal Government has ignored states rights when it comes to commerce conducted over the internet. For example, Amazon is based in the state of Washington, the item is provided via a third party vendor in Mississippi, its shipped from a warehouse in Kansas to an address in NYC - which state has the right to collect sales tax? This issue has been perplexing congress from a long time now, there os no easy answer, and by congresses inaction there may never be an answer - we may remain in limbo for a long time (which is of course great for consumers).

A Little More Complicated Than That... (3, Interesting)

ideonexus (1257332) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036710)

You are correct that things have gotten off topic, and a lot of people are missing what's actually going on here; however, it's not as simple as giving purchases with titles redacted...

Amazon is being sued to pay the taxes for purchases in North Carolina, not for everyone in America. They furnished NC's Department of Revenue (DOR) a list of all sales with ASINs (Amazon's Unique Identifier for products) from 2003 - 2010. NC needs the details because different kinds of products have different sales taxes. NC's DOR demanded that Amazon also provide the Bill-To and Ship-To information, which Amazon refused to do as this would violate the First Amendment by identifying the details of what NC residents were reading, watching, and listening to.

This is where it gets hazy... The DOR offered to give the original data back in exchange for data that identified people, but not the details of what they purchased, but the original data would be kept on the DOR Secretary's computer, because they needed some of that for... I dunno, it's hazy legalese. Amazon stated that the only way they have to identify what was purchased was ASINs, which would identify the products, so no deal.

The DOR admitted that this customer-identifying data would add nothing to establishing Amazon's tax-liability, but they still wanted it. Amazon got backing by the ACLU and the Judge ruled against the DOR.

This should be case-closed, but, as a resident of North Carolina, I'll be keeping an eye on it, and will be writing an irate letter to the editor of my local paper for not covering this story. Thanks Slashdot!

Re:Huh.. (1)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036754)

Basically, they need the category data - book / clothing / housewares / etc. That allows them to figure out what is taxable and what isn't. For instance, in NJ, groceries and clothing are not taxed, but household items, books, etc. are. So you go to the grocery store, and the 5 cases of Coke aren't taxed, but toilet paper and shampoo are. Alcohol is taxed twice - there's an alcohol tax built into the price, and a sales tax on the total (that changed about 10-12 years ago, it used to just be the alcohol tax, no sales tax). Given the decline in state sales/use tax revenue (whether or not you agree with the tax model), combined with the growth of things like Amazon, it's hard not to think that we need a better system for taxes to be collected. The voluntary reporting model doesn't work, it needs to be calculated by the seller (and before anyone claims Amazon can't do that, LL Bean, Barnes and Noble, etc. all manage to do it. Clearly you can buy sales tax data or have a service that does it).

Details or User info - not both (1)

jvolk (229717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34036596)

The big issue here is that Amazon had previously sent transaction details (such as book titles, etc.) but without the user info. The state has these records on file - this judgement basically says that while the state has the transaction details, they cannot have the user information. If the state were to dump those details, Amazon might still be obligated to provide such information such as Joe Blow - $100 - Books.

This means for people like me, I still may be obligated to pay those back taxes (well, of course I paid them all already...)

Aren't... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036678)

Aren't these taxes more akin to state tariffs than sales taxes since most of the goods are only imported into the state? Doesn't that violate the commerce clause?

Good thing it does not exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34036996)

With all the efforts Sony has put in to their PSP and PS3 product lines being a bit more resistant to piracy, the idea of Sony putting their gaming software/hardware on to a phone where a Linux-based operating system is managing business for the end user would be a time bomb for the company. They would theoretically be giving the homebrewers and modders out there a more open window towards compromising or utilizing their software.

as nice of an idea as it is, I'm glad for Sony's sake that it doesn't

Over-Reliance on the Sales Tax (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#34037796)

North Carolina's problem, like many states, is an over-reliance on state sales taxes. If they would reduce their sales tax to zero and increase other taxes to compensate, they would make their own businesses more competitive with Internet retailers like Amazon.com and eliminate the need to try to tax them. At the same time, this would encourage commerce and eliminate a regressive tax.

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