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Amazon Pushes For National Internet Sales Tax

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the pay-up dept.

Government 392

SonicSpike writes "The Governor of Tennessee struck a deal with Amazon.com to allow their operations to move to TN in exchange for Amazon.com not having to collect TN sales tax for the next 2 years. However the Governor noted in his press conference that he is working with Amazon.com to push the US federal government to impose a national Internet sales tax."

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Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661108)

So when I fall down my internet staircase, the internet ambulance supported by my internet taxes will get here even faster!

Re:Great (1)

Nexus7 (2919) | about 3 years ago | (#37661268)

Well, precisely. It's easy to say "national sales tax," in fact (I just said it). But how's it going to be allocated back to the states? Why should all the purchasing from, say Chicago, subsidize roads in a little town in Mississippi? It's all nice and collegial, but note that the roads in Chicago would be severely underfunded. TFA does have very many details ( infact, it has none), so is this another sensational headline out of a non-story?

Re:Great (2)

Captain Hook (923766) | about 3 years ago | (#37661432)

As someone from outside the US, why is national infrastructure paid for at a local level?

It's not a troll, I seriously don't really get the idea of a single country being run by so many independant states as the US seems to be. Here in the UK there are National Routes and Local Routes, with the local routes paid for out of Council Tax and a share of the nationally collected Income Tax, although there are arguments for getting rid of Council Tax in favour of either a Land Tax or a more direct share of Income Tax.

Re:Great (3, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 3 years ago | (#37661498)

...why is national infrastructure paid for at a local level?

It isn't. National infrastructure (Interstate highways, for instance) is paid for directly by federal (national) funding.

Re:Great (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | about 3 years ago | (#37661616)

Ah, so it's not so dissimilar to the UK setup.

I guess the next question then is, why does Sales Tax matter so much? I know Income Tax is lower in the US than the UK, but do the individual States not get any of that funding? Is there no equivalent of Council Tax (i.e. a tax collected solely for the use of the state)?

Re:Great (1)

pulse2600 (625694) | about 3 years ago | (#37661728)

We do have national and local roads, also state roads and county roads. Each type can get funding from any variety of sources for many reasons. However I think the previous poster is commenting on how a nationally collected tax would provide disproportionate funding to federal infrastructure on a state by state or local level. There might be more online shoppers in areas of higher population and wealth, but that federal internet tax money would be applied to federal projects in areas that may not be contributing to the pot as much...in other words, like every other federal program in existence.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661726)

Don't worry your precious, little head. The money will go straight to the banks and the military industry. Problem solved.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661388)

the internet ambulance

If you are hurt badly enough it will be the ROFLcopter that comes to get you.

If you aren't really hurt much and just a wuss it will be the Whaambulabnce.

Re:Great (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 3 years ago | (#37661434)

If he is really REALLY hurt, well, then Ceiling Cat will come. Or Basement Cat.

Re:Great (3, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 3 years ago | (#37661476)

To hell with the virtual - why the frig should those of us living in states with no sales taxes in the real world (Oregon) have to pay up for everyone else's, and since when would we be forced to start paying one?

Dunno about you, but it would pretty much change buying habits for most purchases around here. Sure, some things would still be cheaper online after figuring in shipping costs and (now this proposed) sales tax, but things online would end up being far less attractive than before... including a lot of Amazon's stock.

OTOH, maybe it'd be the push needed to support local (offline) business more?

Re:Great (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | about 3 years ago | (#37661590)

No doubt it would negatively affect Amazon, but how would the taxes be used?

Personally, I buy stuff at Amazon mostly for convenience and even if prices were higher than local stores, I would still shop at Amazon.

Openned article ... (1)

jsnipy (913480) | about 3 years ago | (#37661110)

Searched for "used for" could not find.

Re:Openned article ... (5, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | about 3 years ago | (#37661188)

I believe the idea is that the money is turned over to the States. Within 5 years it will most likely turn into a club to beat them into compliance (like highway funds or any other funds for that matter) since monies are withheld from the State if they don't do what they're told.

Re:Openned article ... (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 3 years ago | (#37661314)

Yet prostitution is still legal in Nevada and they don't receive highway funds. So there are more than one way to skin a rabbit.

Re:Openned article ... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 years ago | (#37661402)

Nevada has Las Vegas. The feds need Nevada more than Nevada needs them.

Re:Openned article ... (1)

Politburo (640618) | about 3 years ago | (#37661700)

They most certainly receive highway funds. Contingent funding can only be used for ~10% of total funds before it becomes unconstitutional (SD v Dole). http://www.nevadadot.com/About_NDOT/FAQs.aspx#question20 [nevadadot.com]

Federal Sales Tax (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661122)

I'm sure Amazon does want a Federal Internet Sales Tax--a nice low one that would preempt any state from adding anything additional. Very bright folks there at Amazon.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (1)

landofcleve (1959610) | about 3 years ago | (#37661150)

And the last time you didn't pay taxes to Federal, State AND local was when?

Re:Federal Sales Tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661394)

Preemption is the key. The commerce clause gives the federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce--and the courts have long interpreted that as a prohibition against states from regulating interstate commerce--especially when the federal government have laws in place to do so in that specific area. Thus the states would (unless specifically allowed by the federal law) be preempted form tacking on additional sales tax on interstate commerce.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (2)

larry bagina (561269) | about 3 years ago | (#37661558)

They can't directly tax mail order/internet purchases today unless the company has a physical nexus. California, New York, Illinois, etc. have classified affiliates as a physical nexus to compel the collection of sales tax. That seems like a stretch, but Amazon filed a lawsuit in New York and lost.

But even if the state can't collect the sales tax automatically, they can still charge you the citizen a Use Tax. There's probably a line on your state income tax form for it. But people don't know or care about paying their use tax (maybe they're too busy demanding other people pay more taxes?) which is why states want to tax the internet sales directly.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (1)

Politburo (640618) | about 3 years ago | (#37661794)

Use tax is impossible to practically enforce, that's the problem.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | about 3 years ago | (#37661536)

As a resident of Alaska I've only filed federal taxes. Nice to see that you enjoy regressive taxation, but we really appreciate the lack of it. I would even opine that sales taxes should not ever be levied.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (3, Interesting)

JeffSh (71237) | about 3 years ago | (#37661176)

Not only that, but yet another tax to collect for the feds, thus creating an operational barrier to entry for new enterprise.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661242)

I'd rather keep track of one sales tax schedule instead of 45 different schedules.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (2)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37661368)

Which isn't really that hard unless you're a small business owner in which case you probably just pay for the service. Large companies shouldn't have any trouble keeping track of that, especially a business the size of Amazon, I can't imagine that it takes more than 1 full time employee, and I'd be surprised if it even requires that much time and energy.

Considering that many companies can figure out how much shipping should cost to various places, it shouldn't be that much harder to plug the address into another database to figure out how much tax to charge.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | about 3 years ago | (#37661546)

45 may not be, but the US has far more than just 50 (+/- a few for territories etc.) different tax codes. Each locality has its own tangled web of taxes and fees. Depending on the industry, it can be quite complicated for a small or maybe even medium business if they don't farm the work out.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661430)

I'd rather keep track of one sales tax schedule instead of 45 different schedules.

45? I'd be fine with calculating distinct rates from all 57 states. Just like I have no problem paying tax to keep my libraries, police, fire and rescue and other civic amenities.

The killer was always taking it to the next level. In my city, they have county tax, city tax, "Enterprise zone" rebates, and other stuff that would make tax calculation prohibitively complex.

It's not a barrier it's an assistance (5, Insightful)

realxmp (518717) | about 3 years ago | (#37661260)

Amazon doesn't care where the money goes, nor do they really care about the rate. A federal tax could quite easily be collected and kept by the states. The reason they want a federal pre-emption is simply the abundance of rules and regulations that must be obeyed for each different area's individual sales tax. For new enterprise, having to obey one set of rules for collection of sales tax nationwide would represent an amazing saving on accountants bills.

Re:It's not a barrier it's an assistance (1)

grommit (97148) | about 3 years ago | (#37661326)

Amen, there's way too many accountants already. No need to create a need for more by having to contend with computing sales tax data for 50+ different regions.

Re:It's not a barrier it's an assistance (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 3 years ago | (#37661510)

But but but ... Those poor accountants needs jobs too! How selfish can you possibly be that you want to eliminate the jobs of the accountants in this troubling economy. Just think how terrible it would be if the streets were lined with out of work lawyers and accountants begging for scraps... Next you'll be proposing a simplified federal tax code and be putting even more lawyers and accoutants out of work! Shame!

Re:It's not a barrier it's an assistance (1)

cusco (717999) | about 3 years ago | (#37661480)

This is just money-grubbing by the Tennessee governor (he's the one proposing it, not Amazon), since Amazon just built a huge fulfillment center in his state and he doesn't have the balls to ask his legislature to pass a new tax law. Instead he wants the Fed to do the work for him.

Re:It's not a barrier it's an assistance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661724)

Amazon doesn't care where the money goes, nor do they really care about the rate. [as long as it is not collected from their pockets]

There, fixed it for ya.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (1)

operagost (62405) | about 3 years ago | (#37661528)

This. Ever wonder why Warren Buffett is so selfless to suggest that capital gains should be taxed more heavily? He has no trouble paying the tax, but upstart competitors trying to compete will.

It's Rules that's the problem not Rate (2)

realxmp (518717) | about 3 years ago | (#37661220)

It's not the rate that needs to be uniform, merely the administration and rules. It would be quite possible to have a federal sales tax, with collection outsourced to the states and rate dependant on delivery address. The issue is when every municipality has their own tax and more importantly rules for applying that tax. It's this abundance of differing rules and regulations which make doing business across territories difficult, rates on the other hand can be determined by a simple lookup table.

The other major problem lies with the states that rely on property taxes for their income rather than a sales tax. This is harder to fix but may be doable as long as you allow the rate to vary to 0.

Re:It's Rules that's the problem not Rate (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | about 3 years ago | (#37661360)

Why should the rate be dependent on delivery address instead of billing? Why should the amount magically change because it's shipped to me, then I drive it to my family's house for Christmas, instead of it being shipped to them directly?

Re:It's Rules that's the problem not Rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661470)

rate dependant on delivery address

And who's going to manage that?

Around here, we've got zones that don't match zipcode boundaries and are often of the form of "east of A st, west of N st, south of 23rd and north of 13th" If your store is on the north side of 13th street, you collect an extra 0.25% in sales tax over what the store on the south side of 13th street collects, and you send that sliver to the sewer department. Of course, the store across the street from you might be in a different zone so they collect the same amount but they'll mail their 0.25% to the water department at the end of the month. Once the sewer upgrade is paid for, you'll switch zones to something else. Currently, keeping databases of all this stuff is a huge monopoly business (much like the company that "owns" the building code and what not) that companies end up having to consult on a regular basis to be sure they're collecting the right amount and sending it to the right place, of course if it turns out the company makes a mistake and you don't collect taxes on what you were supposed to, well the disclaimer is right there on the contract you signed. Enjoy contracting with tens of thousands of these little people who are more than happy to take your money and give you a database (in one of tens of thousands of different formats) of addresses and what to collect and where to send it, that may or may not be up-to-date.

Obviously the government's answer is going to be that the store will have to report all sales to the government along with the address so that the government knows which entities to dispatch the money to, or whether to have the SWAT team raid the guy who bought a bottle of wine online.

Re:It's Rules that's the problem not Rate (2)

indymike (1604847) | about 3 years ago | (#37661754)

Actually, the US constitution requires any tax on interstate commerce to be levied equally. It also prohibits states from taxing purchases made in other states.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | about 3 years ago | (#37661258)

Amazon wants to make sure EVERY competitor has the same disadvantage no matter what state they're in, so they figure, if we're doing taxes anywhere, let's make sure everybody else gets disadvantaged.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 years ago | (#37661440)

EVERY competitor has the same disadvantage

There's no sales tax here in NH, nor in a few other States. Amazon is trying to disadvantage all Internet businesses in these States? I doubt the Tennessee Governor's report is entirely accurate.

Re:Federal Sales Tax (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 3 years ago | (#37661524)

No sales tax in Oregon either, so companies based here have no legal compulsion to collect them, keep track of them, or any such device.

amazon (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661152)

RTFA: It nowhere says Amazon is pushing for this, the tenesse governor is, and hoping to work with Amazon for this. Amazon is not pushing for it, typical slashdot fud.

Re:amazon (1)

todrules (882424) | about 3 years ago | (#37661226)

Agreed. The title is very misleading and untrue. Even the original article's title is "Gov Haslam Pushes For Internet Sales Tax." Note that nowhere does it say Amazon.

We now know what side (1)

landofcleve (1959610) | about 3 years ago | (#37661174)

Of the state's rights issue Amazon is on. Next up -> the Amazon Library of Congress.

Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661184)

If it is a law in that you have to collect sales tax in a state in which you have a physical presence, then how can a "deal" be struck? What am I missing?

I am wondering that if an Internet sales tax is implemented if that would mean we would no longer technically be a republic, and if other definitions and laws would need to be changed in the Constitution and else where.

Re:Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661336)

Interstate Commerce clause fits the internet a lot more than Income Tax does....

Re:Confused (1)

jmauro (32523) | about 3 years ago | (#37661824)

Which is why income tax has the 16th Amendment. No commerce clause needed.

Re:Confused (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37661390)

Because Amazon doesn't have a physical presence there and they struck the deal as a prerequisite for moving facilities there. Which ought to be blatantly illegal as it's essentially an agreement to turn a blind eye to tax evasion so Amazon will move to the state.

make it opt-in for states (3, Insightful)

million_monkeys (2480792) | about 3 years ago | (#37661206)

The complaints of online businesses are that each state has it's own laws and it requires too much work to comply with 50 different sets of laws. It seems a simpler solution would be a national tax policy instituted at the federal level with a single set of rules. In order to not infringe on state's rights, allow states the option of using this policy or sticking with their own. If they choose this policy, online retailers will be required to charge tax as appropriate and send it to the state. Retailers won't have to deal with the hassle of tracking numerous different laws and won't have to worry about shutting down their business presence in entire states. If the state chooses not to adopt this policy, they can continue with their current system and rely on people to pay the sales tax with their annual income taxes. Seems like this would work for everyone.

Re:make it opt-in for states (4, Informative)

chill (34294) | about 3 years ago | (#37661322)

If it was only 50 it would be trivial to implement. The problem is most States allow individual counties to collect an additional percentage. There are 3,077 counties in the United States, according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] . On top of that, many municipalities also have the option of collecting an additional sales tax.

Add in that sales taxes vary depending on the type of item purchased, and in some cases county/city surtaxes are limited by the dollar amount of the purchase, and you end up with one hell of a convoluted mess if you deal nationwide.

For details see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sales_taxes_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

Re:make it opt-in for states (3, Informative)

digitalaudiorock (1130835) | about 3 years ago | (#37661412)

Absolutely. Back in the early 90s at a software company I worked for, one of our customers was a company that specialized in aircraft maintenance, refurbishing etc...a lot of which was for private owners. They had to be prepared to collect every applicable sales tax based on the residence of the owner. The system they had for that, which required them to buy expensive updates regularly, kept track of literally thousands of different taxes....pure insanity. Anyone with any notion of mandating that on Internet businesses is either ignorant or simply wants Internet commerce to disappear.

Re:make it opt-in for states (2)

cusco (717999) | about 3 years ago | (#37661414)

A former employer was working with a Russian-based software company to introduce their restaurant POS system to the US. They were appalled that there were such things as local taxes that varied from one community to another, they were going to have to re-write the entire tax module to accommodate it. Delayed the product too long and they abandoned the effort, since in the meantime a whole slew of cheap POS systems (including the one from MS) had hit the market.

Re:make it opt-in for states (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 3 years ago | (#37661694)

A former employer was working with a Russian-based software company to introduce their restaurant POS system to the US. They were appalled that there were such things as local taxes that varied from one community to another, they were going to have to re-write the entire tax module to accommodate it. Delayed the product too long and they abandoned the effort, since in the meantime a whole slew of cheap POS systems (including the one from MS) had hit the market.

So, in short, the tax system worked in this case - protecting domestic industry from foreign competition.

Re:make it opt-in for states (1, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37661418)

That was more reasonable in the days of catalog sales, these days we have these things called "databases" in which people can store records and information. I suggest businesses could rent access or create their own, and then have that problem more or less dealt with.

The whole notion that it's somehow prohibitively expensive or complicated to keep track of is just an excuse in most cases to get an unfair pricing advantage over brick and mortar stores.

Re:make it opt-in for states (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661450)

And yet stores like Wal-mart have no problem collecting sales tax from these thousands of different sales tax jurisdictions. The complaint that it takes too much work is bogus, because the work has already been done. Amazon just needs to stop whining, suck it up, take the time to implement the system (which would really not be that expensive), or buy or license something from somebody else that has already done it.

Re:make it opt-in for states (2)

John Bresnahan (638668) | about 3 years ago | (#37661656)

And yet stores like Wal-mart have no problem collecting sales tax from these thousands of different sales tax jurisdictions.

That's because each store only has to deal with one sales tax structure, not thousands.

The reality is that physical stores charge the sales tax of the seller's location, not the buyer's location. That may not be the intent of the law, but that's the way it actually works.

Re:make it opt-in for states (2)

million_monkeys (2480792) | about 3 years ago | (#37661462)

It doesn't matter if there 50 different rates or 5000 different rates. We can store a list of those rates. The problem is that the rules vary. If the rules that apply to the tax were the same across all the different counties and municipalities, it is (or should be) trivial to look up the location and apply a tax rate based on that. A national system could make the rules the same and that is the key to avoiding the convoluted mess.

Re:make it opt-in for states (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 3 years ago | (#37661482)

3077 counties! Oh lordy! How would we keep track of so many different taxes? That would take either a big piece of paper, or several, even! Too bad there isn't a better way of keep track of lists of things...

Re:make it opt-in for states (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37661604)

3077 counties! Oh lordy! How would we keep track of so many different taxes? That would take either a big piece of paper, or several, even! Too bad there isn't a better way of keep track of lists of things...

First of all its by municipality, not county. Individual cities have different rates here.

Ah that's easy, once you have the data. How do you get the data? The expensive part is keeping track of the endless seemingly random changes. Is soda a tax free food or taxable luxury good in that city? How bout energy drinks?

Re:make it opt-in for states (2)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about 3 years ago | (#37661806)

3077 counties! Oh lordy! How would we keep track of so many different taxes? That would take either a big piece of paper, or several, even! Too bad there isn't a better way of keep track of lists of things...

As others said, it's not just a list of Zipcode1 == 7%, Zipcode2 == 6%, etc. That's not TOO bad unless it gets broken down by sections/streets of a town/zip, and then you have to make sure some central database is 100% up-to-date. It's probably easier to get updates from big areas than smaller communities.

But... different communities/states have different sets of rules. Oh, for ZipCodeZ food items are an additional 1%, if the price is over $x then it's another 1%, etc. Not every community, but a lot.

In which case, you have to make sure each item is tagged correctly... not just as "food" or "electronics" but whatever every rule... everywhere... can classify an item. Imported Meats + Kosher + etc. Or this computer is Computer + Home Media Entertainment + etc.

You then need to incorporate the logic in there (perhaps as a syntax / algorithm) "for Zipcode3, if ItemPriceX > Y then Add(Z)" and all of that. And that might be a pain after a couple of years when a handful of small areas decide to change around their rules on the fly.

Personally, I'm all for either a standard National Internet Tax or simply a simple percentage-tax by state, or no tax.

Re:make it opt-in for states (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 3 years ago | (#37661512)

Exactly. Sales tax are setup for brick and mortar stores. You pay the sales tax based on where you buy the item with an exception made for cars in many places.
And you are correct in that if it was just 50 states that it wouldn't be a problem it is every county and town. This is easy to deal with for brick and mortar but a pain for online.
For instance do you charge the tax based where your server is at? If so a lot of datacenters will pop up in Oregon, Montana, and New Hampshire. The billing address or the card? Or the shipping address?
The real issue is even worse because each place you sell to can request a full audit of your books at any time to check that you paid the sales tax! So your little online store that sells a cool tee shirt you created could be audited 20 times month.
In other words it is your classic case of what worked in the old days doesn't really work well in the internet age.

Re:make it opt-in for states (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | about 3 years ago | (#37661520)

I feel there is a simple solution. If states could adopt a special sales tax for online purchases primarily. Here is how it'd work.

It'd have a special sales tax code for when filed. The sales tax rate would be based on the average sales tax rate for the state. Gross sales tax revenue divided by gross receipts, excluding online purchases. And the business must not have a nexus within the state in order to opt into this.

So maybe it works out to 8.1%. Then if a business sells something to someone in that state, the business only has one rate to deal with if they qualify for this special sales tax rate. That is, if they have no nexus within that state.

The state would then take the revenue under this special code and divide it amongst the locales based on a fairness algorithm.

Sales tax = double tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661218)

How about getting rid of sales tax instead? There are quite a few other lucrative options, which don't hurt the economy as much.

Re:Sales tax = double tax (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 years ago | (#37661426)

We never get rid of taxes, we just add more, and more, and more........

Re:Sales tax = double tax (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37661428)

That would be my preferred option, but ever since SCOTUS threw ours out in the '30s we haven't been able to get one by the legislature or voters.

Re:Sales tax = double tax (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about 3 years ago | (#37661506)

Sales tax is the only useful way to tax companies on. If you taxes revenue, middlemen would mean multiple taxation, by keeping the tax at point-of-sale the tax is only paid once and the cost of it is spread up through price-pressure to all of the involved companies. Tax on profit is even more useless as profit can easily be redefined by accountants, which means ordinary company tax is only paid by small companies with poor accountants.

Or are you under the false assumption sales-tax are meant as a tax on consumers?

this is why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661230)

i'm going to only buy used items and cash transactions from now on... get ready for a VAT!

I like how (1)

iteyoidar (972700) | about 3 years ago | (#37661294)

I like how businesses treat the south as the third world (or Caribbean tax shelter) of America.

Here is why its good (1, Informative)

Snaller (147050) | about 3 years ago | (#37661302)

tl;dr, version:

Online shops already have a lot fewer expenses, if they don't have to pay sales tax like brick and mortar stores have to, those stores close. Less tax is paid, there is less money to run a decent human society and you are fucked (unless you are one of the rich who doesn't give a crap about ordinary people)

Oh, and clearly Amazon is not in favor of this, evidently they are in favor of paying no taxes anywhere, because they don't care that much about supporting society, beyond selling people crap they probably don't need.

Here is why it is bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661392)

We are talking about the most expensive, most powerful government AND world empire (with military bases in some 150 countries around the world) that has ever existed. By any measure, the US government already has enough money, and if they don't, then the next question is obvious: if the most expensive, most powerful government in the world can't make things right, then logically, more money and more power are the absolute last things needed to make it right, and quite possibly the cause of making it wrong.

I'm all for making the tax code fair, but at the same time, anything that rakes more cash through the business of government is at best pointless, and at worst extremely dangerous. After all, everything evil that governments do and could possibly do is bound to holding the economic means to do it.

Re:Here is why its good (1)

fermion (181285) | about 3 years ago | (#37661562)

They are in favor of following current law which in general puts the burden of paying taxes on the individual not the corporation or firm. Under this situation, individuals are not in favor of supporting the infrastructure as they do not pay the taxes due to the state. As I have said before, this can be solved by states setting up new bureaucracy to educate and collect the taxes from the individual. It is a structural problem created by using a system that designed when product was shipped by horse draw carraige in a time when orders are placed instantaneously and shipped across the world overnight.

I can see the benefit of a national clearing house of state taxes run by the feds. It would be less cumbersome all firms if there was on place they could pay taxes on orders. State a fixed rate, say 5%, and all a retailer has to do is send a list of orders along with states shipped and a check for 5%. There is an efficiency to this.

The problem comes in with the special cases. Not everyone pays sales tax. Resellers do not. Do we accept a tax exempt code and then build and fund the infrastructure at the federal level to manage those tax exempt codes, or do let everyone pay taxes and then ask for a rebate at the state level. Clearly the later would be more efficient, yet costs small firms, even churches, a great deal of money. And you know how churches whine about paying for the infrastructure.

Even who pays and gets the money for the program is going to be controversial. How much of cut does the federal government get for running the program, or is it paid as an unfunded mandate. Then in the case where the billing and shipping address are in different states, who gets the money? Does the firm now have to run a double tax system, so local orders pay local sales tax. And what about the city. If you are shipping to a city, and the city has a sales tax, why does the city not get a tax?

Sales tax is a favorite of conservatives because it shifts responsibility to the individual while firms and corporations are often not subject to the tax. A fixed tax on wages, salaries, capital gains, etc, at 5%, less than most of use pay in sales tax, might be simpler and force more to pay a fair share.

Re:Here is why its good (1)

yuriyg (926419) | about 3 years ago | (#37661592)

Online shops already have a lot fewer expenses, if they don't have to pay sales tax like brick and mortar stores have to, their customers will be able to save more money. Less tax is paid, the less will be spent on bombing innocent foreigners, closing down legal drug dispensaries and more of the more money will be left in people's pockets to spend on a decent human society (unless you are one of the rich who doesn't give a crap about ordinary people).

Stores don't pay sales tax (3, Insightful)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 3 years ago | (#37661602)

Stores don't pay sales tax... customers do. The stores occasionaly are nice enough to collect the tax from the customer for the state. You are still responsible for paying your sales tax even if the store does not collect it. Just like if you run a cash only buisness with no paper records you are still responsible for reporting all your income to the IRS to pay your taxes. If you chose to commit tax evasion, it is your own damn fault and not the responsibility of the retailer.

Re:Here is why its good (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37661664)

Less tax is paid, there is less money to run a decent human society

Ah that is the core argument, not sales tax or not sales tax. How do those internet ordered goods arrive? UPS? Doesn't UPS pay a tax? If you want parcel insurance, doesn't it cost more based on the value of the parcel?

I'm thinking its a heck of a lot simpler to collect tax on a per-delivery route basis from a handful of shipping companies, than from "everyone who could theoretically sell something on ebay" basis.

Re:Here is why its good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661792)

There is no way in hell any company can honestly implement a sales tax software solution which takes account of all the regulations. National retailers which have physical stores in 50 states fail to do it. I'll give you an example. I have a computer repair business. I collect sales tax for NJ for services as the law dictates I do so. This law changed in 2008 or so. Staples- a major retailer nationwide does not properly collect sales tax for all repair related services in NJ despite being required to by law. Each of the charges (dozens) for repair services that they have would need to be modified to fix this. From my perspective it is easy as I am in only one state with an easy sales tax system (7% on everything and no local sales taxes). We FAILED to setup operations in New Orleans area (Louisiana) because there sales taxes were so insane. At the same time we succeeded in Portland Oregon where sales taxes were simple (there aren't any). The same is true for Pennsylvania. My point is if major retailers can't do it how the hell are little one person operations going to do it? Are you saying we should be put out of business? Because that is what you are doing.

That's real smart! (2)

na1led (1030470) | about 3 years ago | (#37661308)

Nothing like a real Jobs Killer by imposing more Taxes! Gee lets see, I can buy this item online from the USA + Tax , or I can buy the same thing from overseas - Tax!

Re:That's real smart! (0)

DogDude (805747) | about 3 years ago | (#37661362)

Nothing like unpatriotic douchebags who intentionally dodge sales taxes!

Re:That's real smart! (1)

na1led (1030470) | about 3 years ago | (#37661396)

Hah! There is no such thing as a Good Tax! TAX is another word for STEAL!

Re:That's real smart! (1)

cusco (717999) | about 3 years ago | (#37661438)

You really don't know how online commerce works, do you? Much less international commerce. Yeesh.

seems to solve an obvious problem (1)

tuffy (10202) | about 3 years ago | (#37661328)

If Amazon is based in state A, takes an order from a customer in state B, and ships the item out of state C, who collects the tax? Collecting on a federal level takes care of that problem, and gets around the constitutional problem of taxing articles exported from any state.

Hell no (0)

rcb1974 (654474) | about 3 years ago | (#37661332)

We need fewer taxes and a smaller government. If you want a job to be done late, overbudged, and sub-par, just get let the government do it.

Re:Hell no (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 years ago | (#37661436)

The feds are pretty damn good at collecting taxes. It's the one thing they really try to get right. Gotta hand it to 'em.

Re:Hell no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661514)

Only because if we don't pay they can throw us into a hole where we'll disappear.

Slight exaggeration.. but the threat of force is there.

I say we extend this to other parts of the government. Project $1 overbudget? In the hole. Quality subpar? Hole. Came in an hour late to your job at the DMV? Definitely the hole.

Re:Hell no (2)

operagost (62405) | about 3 years ago | (#37661738)

Really? The IRS gives out incorrect advice on the tax code, then penalizes YOU for it. People cheat them all the time, because you can only audit a small percentage. Charlie Rangel ripped off the IRS for nearly a decade. It's corrupt and self-serving just like nearly every government organization.

Re:Hell no (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 3 years ago | (#37661580)

We need fewer taxes and a smaller government.

A national internet sales tax would give us fewer taxes and less government. It would replace dealing with thousands of redundant individual local tax rates and authorities with a single system.

If you live in a state with no sales tax... (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 3 years ago | (#37661348)

...this kinda blows. It's more money out of your pocket. If you live in a state with sales tax, it sucks. It's more money out of your pocket, but at least some of it will fill in the gaps left by all the revenue that Amazon sucked out of your state without sending back one dime to support the commons. What? You thought the roads and other infrastructure that the brown trucks use to deliver your Amazon purchases just magically appeared? For free? Grow up and recognize that maintaining and protecting the commons is everybody's responsibility.

Dang those Democrats! (1)

Oh Gawwd Peak Oil (1000227) | about 3 years ago | (#37661380)

The Governor of Tennessee [Bill Haslam] [...] to push the US federal government to impose a national Internet sales tax

Dang those Democrats, always raising taxes! Oh well, at least we have Republicans to proudly fight against every tax and stand up for the American people.

Oh, wait a second . . .

Time to let sales tax go extinct. (1)

Eldragon (163969) | about 3 years ago | (#37661386)

Seems to me it would be far more effective for states to stop relying so much on sales tax and move to other areas of revenue such as property and income tax. In the event of a national sales tax, it won't be long before the federal government decides to keep the money and the states need to make up for the shortfall elsewhere anyway.

Re:Time to let sales tax go extinct. (1)

JeffAtl (1737988) | about 3 years ago | (#37661620)

States like Florida are able to collect enough sales tax from out-of-state tourists that they are able to avoid an income tax.

Sales tax is probably the most "fair" of all the various tax schemes as it is for the most part, an optional tax.

Easily averted (1)

catmistake (814204) | about 3 years ago | (#37661492)

Just call the number on the website, order over the phone... tax avoided. I think perhaps Tennessee governers need a refresher on the deliniation between the jurisdiction of Tennessee governers and jurisdiction of Interstate Commerce. Nobody tells the US Congess what to do. Nobody.

Solves some big problems, creates new small ones.. (4, Informative)

Above (100351) | about 3 years ago | (#37661494)

If you've ever looked at the patchwork of sales tax rules in this country you can quickly see this solves a major problem. There are literally 10's of thousands of sales tax jurisdictions in the US, pretty much every county at a minimum, and often each city or town inside of the county. It's not just different rates, but also different rules. Food is taxed in one place, taxed at a different rate in another, and not taxed in a third. And what is "food"? You don't really want to know the answer to that question, it's probably 10,000 pages long! Having one rate, or perhaps one national base rate and a per state "option"; but more importantly one set of classification rules would really solve a major hurdle for small online retailers, and make it practical for them to collect tax.

The largest problem this creates is who gets the revenue? Taxes generally pay for infrastructure (roads, bridges, fire departments, etc), so it makes sense for some of the revenue to go where the seller is located, and some where the buyer is located. In brick and mortar sales these tend to be the same place, but won't be for Internet sales. Plus, Internet sales depend on transportation. The goods are shipped by truck and rail, probably across many states in the middle. Some of the money needs to go to those states to build interstates and airports and rail yards to get the goods from seller to buyer.

There are some other small problems. For instance if the money is collected and distributed via the fed, can it be used as a stick to get the states to do other things? The tax may be regressive, depending on how it is implemented. Many localities exempt food for instance as a means of assisting the poor, squaring those rules into a national set of rules will be difficult.

Still, overall I think the country needs something like this to happen. The idea that we can collect no taxes on a significant fraction of the business activity is just crazy. Many other countries already have a VAT tax because of issues like this, so the US is really falling behind. No one likes taxes, but we all like the things taxes achieve (on some level), so let's find the simplest, least evil, and fairest way to collect them. Going from 10,000+ sets of rules and rates down to 1 would be a huge step.

what is the point? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 3 years ago | (#37661516)

How about we come up with a way to elect someone other than narcissistic sociopaths into office? Then we can worry about the minutae. Seriously, all this talk of taxes and policy seems so pointless with the crop of miseryshits we have in office.

Inaccurate headline? (2)

bwhaley (410361) | about 3 years ago | (#37661526)

Amazon is NOT pushing for a national sales tax! This article is about Governor Haslam's agenda, not Amazon's. The headline is inaccurate and misleading.

No, no, and hell no. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 3 years ago | (#37661542)

I already pay taxes when I shop at just about any online retailer, I don't want to pay ANOTHER tax.
Fuck off Tennessee.

Let the states collect their sales tax from online (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661576)

That would boost a lot of local economies, not to mention local governments which have been hurting for revenues since the recession started.

It's plain unfair for local retailers to compete against mega-operations like Amazon that, on top of not having bricks and mortar overhead, don't have collect sales tax. It certainly does factor into consumer buying decisions. And if it's collected on a state-by-state rather than Federal basis, the playing field will be level for both local and remote retailers.

Big deal for TN. (1)

Pionar (620916) | about 3 years ago | (#37661606)

Tennessee has no income tax, so it relies on its almost 10% sales tax for a lot of its revenue.

So, yes, this is a big deal for them.

However, if this actually happens, I can see a cottage industry growing of sales tax databases. This would also include when states have "tax holidays", where there is no sales tax on certain items.

I don't get the argument, though, that it would be too complicated. All nationwide retail stores do it. It's just one more thing to deal with as a business owner.

Of course TN supports internet sales tax (1)

bkaul01 (619795) | about 3 years ago | (#37661686)

TN is a no-income-tax state: it derives its revenue primarily from sales taxes. Of course they support a federal solution that would require internet retailers to collect sales taxes – without it, the state government's main source of revenue is threatened as retail sales move online. I would be shocked if any governor of Tennessee, from either party, opposed such a law.

Lol @ politicians not understanding polotics (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 years ago | (#37661766)

So the feds will collect this money and hand it over to the states... for how long? 20yrs? 5yrs? Before they just start keeping it for themselves? It's just retarded. As usual, give the government more money and they will find better ways to either set it on fire, spend it invading a country or curtailing our almost non-existent civil rights even further.

To be honest. (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | about 3 years ago | (#37661784)

To be honest... I'd much rather a sales tax than an income tax.

An income tax costs us many millions to support, police,etc- and it ends up that the very rich can find ways to pay very little tax through loopholes while the middle rich and the lower incomes pay higher percentages.

Most sales tax suggestions are not progressive- but they could be made so. (non-restaurant) Food untaxed. clothing items under x$ at a lower rate.

Luxuries taxed at a higher rate.

Just don't call it a sales tax.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661808)

Just don't call it a sales tax.
How about federal e-commerce tax, flat rate of 15%, applicable to any goods or services bought online, valid everywhere within the continental US + Alaska and Hawaii.
There, you see its easy if you have the political will to push it through.
This is one instance were you yankees should learn about VAT (value added tax). It simplies things tremendously.

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