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Bipartisan Internet Sales Tax Bill Introduced

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-in-time-for-the-holidays dept.

Businesses 548

jfruhlinger writes "Four senators, including both Democrats and Republicans, have introduced a bill that would allow (but not require) states to collect sales tax on items purchased by residents online, even the seller has no physical presence in that state. Sellers would be able to pay through either the existing Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement or a new alternative tax simplification plan. Battle lines are being drawn predictably: brick-and-mortar retailers love the idea, Internet-only sellers hate it."

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548 comments

Bipartisan support (5, Insightful)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006820)

Because the one thing all politicians can agree on is that they want more of your money.

Re:Bipartisan support (5, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006878)

And citizens want police & fire departments, better schools, better public transportation, better water supplies, better sewers, better roads, better bridges, etc. What they dont want is to have to pay for any of it.

Re:Bipartisan support (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006914)

Yes, because tax dollars are the ONLY way to pay for such things. Great straw-man argument.

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006950)

Its the only legal way I'm aware of. Taxes are how the government raises money to pay for things. The only other option is a loan or bond, which still needs to be repaid with taxes.

Re:Bipartisan support (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007054)

Its the only legal way I'm aware of. Taxes are how the government raises money to pay for things. The only other option is a loan or bond, which still needs to be repaid with taxes.

Alas, the government has got away from responsible borrowing and gone credit-card-crazy.

First thing is pass federal law, which requires 66% in House and Senate to exceed revenues from prior year, further tying the overage to a repayment plan, which cannot be rotating (borrow again to pay the prior loan.)

Second, pay down the debt - all of it. After that, taxes could be lowered greatly. Probably never see it in my lifetime, though.

Re:Bipartisan support (5, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007096)

But we're talking about state taxes, not federal. For example, every election cycle here in CA we tend to vote YES on things like highway improvements but NO on taxes to fund them. Thats why CA is in the mess its in, because our state constitution requires a separate vote for funding and no one wants to pay for the stuff they want the government to do.

Re:Bipartisan support (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007122)

Maybe it's because your tax base has been destroyed by illegals and welfare whores? Could that be?

Re:Bipartisan support (0)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007148)

Doesn't seem like it. The illegals here by and large pay their state taxes (payroll and sales) and our social programs are very good overall with little wastage. Hell, I was on food stamps etc growing up and I have long since put more money into the system as a result then I ever took out (six figure earner and just purchased my house last year, would be dead in a ditch without welfare etc).

Re:Bipartisan support (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007298)

Doesn't seem like it. The illegals here by and large pay their state taxes (payroll and sales) and our social programs are very good overall with little wastage. Hell, I was on food stamps etc growing up and I have long since put more money into the system as a result then I ever took out (six figure earner and just purchased my house last year, would be dead in a ditch without welfare etc).

What most people outside (and a lot inside) California don't get, is the property taxes aren't where they should have been. After Prop 13 passed the state, which had a booming economy, excellent public education and healthy state budget went into slow decline. Even during the dotcom bubble years the state wasn't as well funded as it should have been. California is now in the bottom third of the nation in Education spending. Probably tops in prison spending, though.

Re:Bipartisan support (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007210)

Thats why our education system, the most expensive in the world, is so totally fucking awesome!

How can more money for teachers be bad? How can more money for fire departments be bad? Its simply not possible to over-fund something. Everyone should be taxed at the flat rate of 100% on all transactions.. that way everything can get maximum funding!

more spending = better ... its so simple! and simple is how we think! Dont bother us with the concept of trade-offs and opportunity costs.. dont bother us with talk about making things more efficient... we want simple! we are liberals! we are right!

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007272)

Its also far more complex then "cut taxes and everything will be fixed". Hyperbol works both ways.

Bad teachers should be fired, which is currently hard to do. But good teachers should be paid accordingly. And a measurement of "good" is not any standardized test that I've seen.

More money is not the answer, a total overhaul of the system is needed. However simply letting the system go bankrupt because we dont want to pay sales taxes on stuff we buy online is silly.

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007168)

And not just tax dollars, but more and more tax dollars. The same amount of tax dollars that built the roads and fire stations isn't enough to maintain them. How will the fire stations stay in good repair if taxes aren't raised for farm subsidies? If a farmer actually uses his land to grow crops, then the fire stations will crumble! And roads! Tunnels and roads cut through hills will revert to pristine hills sans roads unless taxes are raised to pay for Three Letter swag!

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007198)

Again. Federal taxes go to farm subsidies. State taxes go to fire departments. Sales taxes are a state issue.

Re:Bipartisan support (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007370)

Yes, because tax dollars are the ONLY way to pay for such things. Great straw-man argument.

OK, how do you pay for police & fire & sewers without taxes?

Or maybe you believe crime victims or people whose houses are on fire should have to swipe their credit card before any help is sent.

Re:Bipartisan support (4, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006962)

Everything you just listed above is paid for in my property taxes, my fuel taxes (both that I pay and UPS/Fedex when delivering my Amazon packages), and my water bill. Why you need sales tax from me if I'm not using a brick and mortar store to buy something?

Re:Bipartisan support (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007048)

Eh no - haven't you heard? Every single penny of every type of tax you pay ever only covers 38% of government spending. None of what you mention is "paid for" by you. Not even close. But the solution isn't to tax more, it's to spend less. I can't believe the amount of sheep who scream "rob me rob me yes please rob me some more!" in the name of raising taxes however whenever a tax hike is proposed, though. I guess I'm too old and too cynical now.

Re:Bipartisan support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007098)

Every single penny of every type of tax you pay ever only covers 38% of government spending.

Everyone better thank me and my two buddies for footing 114% of all government spending.

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007120)

Property taxes pay for a lot, but not all. In many places the amount of property tax is fixed at the time of purchase and never increases. I will be paying 1.5% of my homes purchase price even after its value has tripled (where I live housing simply doesn't devalue like it does in most places). Meanwhile the cost of infrastructure and public services will continue to go up.

Re:Bipartisan support (2)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007236)

Good ol' Prop 13...yeah, I'm sure THAT hasn't caused any negative consequences in CA, no sirree...

Re:Bipartisan support (2)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007344)

As a home owner I'm all in favor of it (grin). But thats more or less my point. People want the government to do stuff, but we dont want to pay. I think its section 13C of the state constitution that's the problem (could be misremembering). It totally separates public projects form their funding do we have to vote twice, once on the project and one on if we want to pay for it.

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007346)

Good ol' Prop 13...yeah, I'm sure THAT hasn't caused any negative consequences in CA, no sirree...

Hard for me to believe, but people who live in a $700,000 house are paying the same amount in property taxes as a homeowner in the midwest, living in a $80,000 house.

Re:Bipartisan support (5, Insightful)

abhi_beckert (785219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007184)

Exactly how much tax is collected is a perfectly valid topic to discuss. But a successful nation needs to collect some kind of tax, and the tax being collected needs to be fair.

Making a local business charge tax while their competitors on the other side of the country (or planet) don't charge tax is damaging to the local economy.

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007212)

Indeed. The interesting thing is that my property taxes and what I pay in interest on my mortgage are themselves tax deductible. I get more back in my tax returns then I pay out on my property taxes.

Re:Bipartisan support (0)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007280)

Do you realize that you just argued against corporate taxes, as they are not "fair" ?

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

suutar (1860506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007308)

At that point, why do you need sales tax even if you are using a brick and mortar store? I have my doubts that your property taxes cover all that. (Of course, if you live in a state that has no sales tax, you shouldn't be affected anyway.)

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006978)

If you really think that that's all that elected officials love spending our money on, then you haven't been paying much attention to them.

Re:Bipartisan support (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007002)

If by "paying for it" you mean "paying at least 20 times what it's actually worth, then no, they don't want to pay for it. Paying for some lard ass to taser everyone he sees in the name of policing, or some pot-hole filled monstrosity that's always under repairs in the name of roads, or some zero tolerance school that teaches kids to walk through metal detectors, etc etc etc is not "better".

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007012)

If only they spent money of those things instead of pouring it down the bottomless holes of bailouts and subsidies.

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007060)

Not aware of state taxes used for bailouts. Again, this is a state tax issue and not federal.

Re:Bipartisan support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007016)

And citizens want police & fire departments, better schools, better public transportation, better water supplies, better sewers, better roads, better bridges, etc. What they dont want is to have to pay for any of it.

Try again when we don't have photos and video of our overpaid Congresstwats playing Solitaire during sessions instead of doing their fucking jobs.

If we have money enough to pay these douchenozzles a very nice six figures, we have money enough to pay for actual necessities without raping our citizenry further.

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007046)

Congress is paid with federal taxes, Senators are paid with state taxes. A sales tax is a state tax.

Re:Bipartisan support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007164)

And citizens want police & fire departments, better schools, better public transportation, better water supplies, better sewers, better roads, better bridges, etc. What they dont want is to have to pay for any of it.

Try again when we don't have photos and video of our overpaid Congresstwats playing Solitaire during sessions instead of doing their fucking jobs.

If we have money enough to pay these douchenozzles a very nice six figures, we have money enough to pay for actual necessities without raping our citizenry further.

Sales taxes are paid to the state and localities, not the federal government which you complain of. You and your locality's citizens are the only ones who voted in any douchenozzles in the governments that sales taxes go to, so take your pointing finger and turn it inwards.

More money not always the solution (5, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007078)

And citizens want police & fire departments, better schools, better public transportation, better water supplies, better sewers, better roads, better bridges, etc. What they dont want is to have to pay for any of it.

Wrong. What they don't want is a vast gulf between the amount of taxes collected and the quality of the services and infrastructure provided. For example spending more money per student and getting some of the lowest test scores. Its not that people are unwilling to fund education, its that money is obviously not the problem with education. Something else is broken and perhaps we should fix that first before evaluating what an appropriate level of spending would be.

Or if you prefer, a car analogy: They don't want to pay Cadillac prices and have a Chevy Aveo delivered. :-)

Re:Bipartisan support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007144)

Too bad only a tiny fraction of our taxes actually pay for those things. Most of the taxes go directly into the pockets of the officers of the corporations who fund the politicians' campaigns via intentionally inefficient contract jobs.

Re:Bipartisan support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007356)

Oh you're absolutely full of shit. Ask anyone and they definitely want to pay for those items you listed. What they don't want to pay for is more foreign wars and more welfare. If the government stopped trying to pay out and prop up everyone's livelihood with borrowed and inflated dollars, there would be plenty of tax money to fund education and infrastructure.

Bottom line, fuck you and every fucking republicrat who keeps increasing the debt. It will eventually come to street violence and civil war if this continues. I for one will be happy to see our politicians hang for what they've done.

Re:Bipartisan support (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007362)

Because the one thing all politicians can agree on is that they want more of your money.

Maybe you missed the existence of the Republican party? The party at the national level is very clear on not being willing to raise federal taxes. This bill does not constitute an exception to that. It will result in increased taxes collected by the states. "They" (the federal-government politicians who wrote this bill) are not getting any more of your money.

BTW, I typically vote Libertarian, never Republican -- but let's be accurate rather than glib.

This has been floating around for some time (2)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006824)

The question was only when the pressure from state governments for the revenue became strong enough. With state revenues still down because of the economic downturn, it seems likely that its time has come.
With the battles between California and Amazon as a foreshadowing, it may be that there will be some sort of phased in deal first.

That's lovely (3, Insightful)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006836)

I wonder how long until all of the big retailers are no longer in the US.

Re:That's lovely (4, Funny)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006898)

I wonder how long until all of the big retailers are no longer in the US.

That would make taxation even simpler. Your package sits in customs until the use tax is paid.

Re:That's lovely (2)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006960)

All my "purchases" are actually made by overseas family members who give me gifts on a regular basis. Tax circumvented under current procedures.

Re:That's lovely (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007072)

All my "purchases" are actually made by overseas family members who give me gifts on a regular basis. Tax circumvented under current procedures.

Surely you pay duty on everything.

Re:That's lovely (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006976)

Sounds like that'll make it easy to tax my online books/music/software purchases *rolls eyes*

Re:That's lovely (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007180)

Sounds like that'll make it easy to tax my online books/music/software purchases *rolls eyes*

Internet sellers include those who are selling packaged goods, not digital goods, packaged goods that are the same things that the mentioned brick and mortar stores are also offering?

Re:That's lovely (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007136)

AFAIK Customs belongs to the feds, not the individual states. Therefore the states would see none of that money. But that's a good thing, they don't know what to do with money anyway.

Re:That's lovely (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007232)

AFAIK Customs belongs to the feds, not the individual states.

No problem. The item sits in customs until the state OK's its release.

Re:That's lovely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006902)

It won't matter. The States will get the money. One way or another.

Re:That's lovely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007104)

Pro business is one thing but please, the idea that we can't tax companies because they give us our jobs and they'll leave if we tax them is weak at best. I would argue that the purpose of local sales taxes is (at least in theory) a benefit to the local area. Amazon does benefit from local infrastructure only in so much as its customers benefit from being able to receive items. One could even say the benefit is more to UPS, FEDEX etc than to Amazon. I also don't care for the idea of a federal sales tax in any form since we know where that would lead.

However, large companies sometimes benefit from tax breaks in areas that are undeserving. Why should a Wal-Mart get any kind of break for coming to a community? Sure they provide jobs but they also bring in more money from consumers to pay for those jobs. Their net effect is going to be a negative cash flow for the community and a positive one for Wal-Mart. If they can't make money and pay taxes like everybody else then maybe someone else can.

Conservatives (-1, Troll)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006862)

Conservatives love a good sales tax because it is nice and regressive.

Re:Conservatives (4, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006972)

Conservatives love a good sales tax because it is nice and regressive.

What part of "Bipartisan Internet Sales Tax Bill Introduced" and "Four senators, including both Democrats and Republicans" makes you want to point at just conservatives, besides demagoguing a single party? Almost all politicians love a good tax on whatever. Like the Christmas tree tax that just got added into all the other ridiculous Agri-taxes the fed has imposed over the years to prop up industries the free-market would otherwise have let work out on its own, this is just another federal manipulation of market desires for the wrong reasons. I'm for regulation, but taxes are an area that need 100% overhaul. Not incremental change. Sweeping reform. For the most part we never see taxes being removed. And that is a bipartisan ailment. Regressive taxes favor all the good-ole-boy club members, and their unfairness or however you view it is perpetrated by both parties.

Re:Conservatives (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007288)

What part of "Bipartisan Internet Sales Tax Bill Introduced" and "Four senators, including both Democrats and Republicans" makes you want to point at just conservatives

Because the D's are pro any-tax? I think GP was explaining the reason why it was bipartisan (whether correct or not is another matter).

Re:Conservatives (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007000)

None of the Senators who proposed this are, by any stretch of the imagination, conservatives.

Roy Blunt is not a conservative? (0)

Attack DAWWG (997171) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007114)

Since when is Roy Blunt not conservative?

Or do you just make things up to support your political agenda? Not surprising.

According to this [sacbee.com] article, the full list of senators who introduced the bill is: Enzi (R-WY), Durbin (D-IL), Alexander (R-TN), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Boozman (R-AR), Reed (D-RI), Blunt (R-MO), Whitehouse (D-RI), Corker (R-TN), and Pryor (R-AR). Six Republicans and four Democrats.

I feel a disturbance in the force.... (2, Insightful)

An dochasac (591582) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006894)

It's as though a billion potential businesspeople in China collectively cried out, "Horray for 0wn3d U.S. Congressmen enacting a clever tarriff against their own country!"

Re:I feel a disturbance in the force.... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007112)

Most people already owe these taxes, they just aren't paying them. Some don't know it, some do, but the fact of the matter is that most states already have a "use tax" that matches their sales tax, and is applied only to out-of-state purchases. This is just a way making the online retailers collect the current taxes, instead of the current "Yeah, pay your taxes after the goods ship. Wink, wink." system we have right now. And since it is being done on the federal level, it is entirely legal and constitutional.

should pay half, but to both states (4, Insightful)

poppopret (1740742) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006900)

Any time you do a sales transaction over a border, even by phone or snail mail, both places should get paid but each at half their normal rate. Example: You're in a state that wants 7%, and the seller is in a state that wants 4%. OK, your state gets 3.5% and the seller's state gets 2%.

Re:should pay half, but to both states (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007094)

Any time you do a sales transaction over a border, even by phone or snail mail, both places should get paid but each at half their normal rate.
Example: You're in a state that wants 7%, and the seller is in a state that wants 4%. OK, your state gets 3.5% and the seller's state gets 2%.

You're far to clever for government. ;)

Re:should pay half, but to both states (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007170)

Ya, because buying a digital download causes wear'n'tear on the state's infrastructure that only imposing a sales tax can cover. Give me a break. It's a tax to line the pockets of your politicians and their friends.

Re:should pay half, but to both states (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007250)

Sellers who do business in multiple states pay each state the rate for that state, not their local rate. The bill says the state that collect will be the buyer's state. What I wonder is if the rate will be based on the billing address or the shipping address? I might want to get a credit card issued to a NH address -- no sales tax, instead of Massachusetts at 6.25%. The exorbitant state sales tax has already driven me out of local stores and buying everything I can on the net.

Re:should pay half, but to both states (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007262)

The income tax (your state) and property taxes (seller's state) already get their share of the transaction.

So let's do away with sales taxes entirely. They're regressive and discourage commerce more directly than other taxes.

I despise sales taxes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006928)

They're inherently regressive devices that tend to suppress economic activity. A progressive income tax is the best solution, for all states. But until they realize that, I'm for this proposal. Let the sales tax apply to all.

Re:I despise sales taxes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007040)

The regression problems with sales taxes are real, but solvable. You can, for example, limit them to non-essential goods.

Oregon (4, Insightful)

Baloo Uriza (1582831) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006946)

I wonder how this will fly in states that have a long history of successfully defending it's 10th Amendment rights, where sales tax is unconstitutional.

'Allowed' to collect taxes (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006956)

I find it very amusing that it will 'allow' states to collect sales tax on online purchases. As if any state would pass up an opportunity to collect taxes on something.

Re:'Allowed' to collect taxes (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007086)

I find it very amusing that it will 'allow' states to collect sales tax on online purchases. As if any state would pass up an opportunity to collect taxes on something.

California rolled back the online tax plan, at least for now, after Amazon threatened to excommunicate all in-state partners.

That really wasn't that long ago, did you forget already?

Re:'Allowed' to collect taxes (1)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007274)

When every state is in on it, they won't have much choice. Is Amazon going to pull out of the USA?

There are states without _any_ sales tax (1)

dlenmn (145080) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007110)

There are states without _any_ sales tax. I would be surprised if they implemented this.

Re:'Allowed' to collect taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007138)

A couple of states have no sales tax. Alaska doesn't have a sales tax or an income tax.

Re:'Allowed' to collect taxes (2)

stinerman (812158) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007142)

As has been said here before, if I, an Ohioan, buy something from Newegg.com in CA, my state of residence has no idea about it. They can't compel Newegg to collect tax on my behalf like they can Best Buy.

Ohio is not allowed to tax purchases I make across state lines per Article I, Section 10. They get around that by taxing the use of the item rather than the sale. So on my Ohio taxes, there's a line where I declare any purchases I made that were not subject to sales tax. They then tax me on the use of the item at the same tax rate as if I'd have bought it locally. It's all entirely voluntary. I can put down $0 and they'd never know the difference. It's tax evasion, but it's really hard for them to prove.

This bill "would allow states to collect sales taxes from remote sellers if they sign on to the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA), a 12-year-old effort to meet the Supreme Court's requirements to simplify sales tax collection, or if they adopt a so-called alternative tax simplification plan." [quoted from the article]

So that's why we have the bill.

Re:'Allowed' to collect taxes (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007156)

I too find it amusing that the 10th amendment is pretty much ignored with votes like this. Since when does the congress 'allow' things that are automatically reserved to the states?

Amendment 10: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Re:'Allowed' to collect taxes (1)

Imrik (148191) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007314)

Article I, Section 8: "The Congress shall have power To [...] regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes"

While I don't think it really applies to most of the ways this clause is used, in this case it seems appropriate since the bill would only ensure that existing taxes are enforced.

Re:'Allowed' to collect taxes (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007358)

I see your Amendment 10 and raise you Article 1, Section 8:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
~
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.

Buying something from OH and shipping it to CA looks like interstate commerce to me.

Walmart vs. Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006964)

I'm still undecided.

The USPS needs a job. (5, Interesting)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006986)

Make the USPS the handler of the sales tax system. They are already in position to id your house, down to the City, County, State and whether it is actually city, county, state, federal or other jurisdiction.

Since we already have laws that make the drive of the truck responsible for the items. Then make the carriers which include FedEx and UPS, be the collector, since they are persons handing the package to customer.

This way the calculation of tax, is part of address validation that all these systems use along with freight charges.

Re:The USPS needs a job. (1)

abhi_beckert (785219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007126)

Not all sales involve a product which needs to be shipped to your door.

The way it works here in Australia is any time a business sells anything to to a customer, they are required to provide an invoice stating how much tax was collected. If they do not provide an invoice, or if they collect the wrong amount of tax, or if they try to pretend they are not a business when they really are, they will be sent off to prison.

It's simple, it works, and it's fair.

Inevitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006990)

This is coming, we must deal with it. I'm no happier about it than anyone else, but states are broke.

Good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007062)

Yeah we needed a way to push more business overseas. [/sarcasm]

probably fairer (1)

miserere nobis (1332335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007064)

I've long thought that the federal government should simply define a sale in the United States as taking place at the location of the buyer. This would allow states to tax every business selling the same thing to the same person exactly the same way. There certainly is no fairness in taxing some sales differently than others; effectively it is a subsidy of business models that do their selling remotely. Plus, practically speaking, as sales move from in-person exchanges toward inter-state, online transactions, this forces states to tax the remaining local businesses at a higher rate, even as they now have to compete with a whole nation of online sellers, thus making it impossible to compete and putting the local employers out of business. We may not like taxes, but I would rather see a lower rate applied evenly than a higher rate applied just to one set of merchants. It is both fairer and stops discouraging businesses from remaining in a state. This hasn't happened up to now mainly because of concern over merchants being able to successfully know and apply all the tax rules in every jurisdiction they sell in. But that's always been a requirement of doing business in a locality, it shouldn't stop now, and hopefully some framework such as this will encourage states to simplify their tax rules in order to take part.

Re:probably fairer (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007366)

This hasn't happened up to now mainly because of concern over merchants being able to successfully know and apply all the tax rules in every jurisdiction they sell in. But that's always been a requirement of doing business in a locality, it shouldn't stop now;

The need "to know and apply all the sales tax rules in every jurisdiction" is a much more significant burden to online retailers than it is to local ones. Local retailers, regardless of who owns them, are run by people local to the state, meaning each retail location need only be familiar with the laws in effect at that location. Online business will generally ship anywhere within the US, significantly complicating things for the single entity whose job it is to deal with all the different sales tax laws.

If the Federal Government wants a national sales tax, let them come up with a tax scheme that is at least as simple as that of the European Union.

Too bad the law is unconstitutional (2, Informative)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007074)

Clearly, Congress has no problem passing laws that will only be struck down.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Bellas_Hess_v._Illinois [wikipedia.org]

"The Commerce Clause prohibits a State from imposing the duty of use tax collection and payment upon a seller whose only connection with customers in the State is by common carrier or by mail." The court stated, "the Court has never held that a State may impose the duty of use tax collection and payment upon a seller whose only connection with customers in the State is by common carrier or the United States mail." The opinion cited Miller Bros. Co. v. Maryland, 347 U.S. 340.

The type of tax imposed was in later years referred to as a "sales" tax. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled similarly in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota.

Re:Too bad the law is unconstitutional (5, Informative)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007150)

This isn't the same. That was the state issuing the law. This is the Federal government. The problem before has always been a state attempting to tax interstate commerce, something they don't have the authority to do. The Federal government however does.

Re:Too bad the law is unconstitutional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007158)

I can see why a state can't do it, but can't Congress do just about anything they want with interstate commerce?

Re:Too bad the law is unconstitutional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007278)

Good thing we're not talking about a state then you dumbfuck.

Re:Too bad the law is unconstitutional (1)

deblau (68023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007282)

Congress didn't pass the law struck down in that case, that was an Illinois state law.

Re:Too bad the law is unconstitutional (-1, Flamebait)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007294)

Hello dumbass, the US Constitution is a living document. Each generation interprets it according to their needs. You must be a teabagger originalist. Fuck the founding fathers! Our generation is much wiser and knows what's best.

Soooooo .... (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007076)

This is a bill that would actually allow the sales tax to be collected and hence close the loophole of people not self reporting their "use" tax??? Thus the gubermint will be able to actually collect on the money it already has claims on???

About time (5, Insightful)

abhi_beckert (785219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007092)

I'm not sure if this bill is the answer, but it's about time you guys fixed this issue over on your side of the pond. It's just plain stupid that some businesses collect sales tax, while other businesses don't.

All businesses should be paying the exact same tax, under the same laws. Anything else is extremely unfair.

Re:About time (2)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007284)

Yeah, too bad sales taxes differ even on brick-and-mortar establishments here. Oregon has no sales tax. In California the amount of sales tax varies by county. This is going to be fun!

it will all be moot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38007124)

If the SCOTUS rules that the health insurance mandate is constitutional, this discussion is moot. In that case, it is difficult indeed to imagine anything which the Feds cannot regulate, mandate, or legislate. After all, EVERYTHING you do affects someone, somewhere, somehow; and therefore could be construed as "interstate commerce".

That should raise the approval ratings of congress (0)

Maltheus (248271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007188)

Just once in my life, I'd like to see our government do something that doesn't piss me off.

Streamlined Sales and Use Tax (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007190)

Although I'm only vaguely familiar with the so-called Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement, I've read enough about it to know that calling it "streamlined" is a major misnomer. The rules behind SSUTA are sufficiently complex as to require computer software to calculate taxes due on particular kinds of items purchased by residents of particular states. While I'm sure this wouldn't be a problem for major online retailers, smaller retailers would almost certainly need to outsource tax calculations to third party services. It's a ridiculous burden, especially compared to the much simpler sales tax model adopted by the European Union.

I'd rather get rid of sales tax altogether (novel idea: let's tax people in proportion to how much they make instead of how much they spend), but if we must have a Federal sales tax I'd rather it be a flat tax per state than the awful mess that is the model proposed by the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement.

Job killing sales tax. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007224)

Everyone knows that if you want less of something you tax it. Sales tax disincentivises purchases and costs our economy jobs.

If that argument works for capitol gains taxes it should work for sales taxes too right?

Re:Job killing sales tax. (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007340)

Right, unless it replaces an existing tax. I don't presently pay sales tax, but would trade income tax for sales tax, if there was no constitutional possibility of ending up with both.

But I see what you're saying. Taxing sales rather than income tends to promote savings, (which I think is a good thing) but fewer sales means less consumption, which leads to job loss.

a tax on items (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007296)

offered by a seller who has no physical presence in the buyers state is a federal tax by any other name.
heres how its worked so far:
1. corrupt financial sector bankrupts millions of americans. staffed with conflicts of interest, the government sits politely on its hands
2. facing bankruptcy themselves, numerous banks receive loans, then lobby to have them forgiven by the american public. some pay them back, not many.
3. paid politicians acting on behalf of major corporations then insist government spending has spiralled out of control, after pissing away billions in lemon socialism to major multinationals like jp morgan chase
4. social programs are cut at all levels and public works projects are halted until we get our "debt" under control
5. george bush racks up another game of boggle with the missus in a crawford ranch livingroom
6. new taxes like this are designed to catch up with older tax policy and pay said 'debt', but fail miserably as theyre written by people who barely understand angry birds
7. repeat this cycle in approximately 40 years. 8. pretend everything from the lincoln savings and loan crisis to the tech bubble are just the result of cyclical market behavior and as such, completely normal. enjoy grinding poverty.

Tax where it is least burdensome (1)

transami (202700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007372)

Let's assume for a moment that it is only fair that online retailers pay sales tax too. Put aside the fact that online sales of anything physical requires shipping. And shipping involves many other taxes, such as fuel taxes.

Now the problem that arises is not so much the tax in itself (that will just serve to raise consumer costs approx. 6%, but benefit state coffers). The real problem is in administration of that tax. Not only will it cost small retailers more to sell on the internet, it will be effectively IMPOSSIBLE to do it on one's own. It will simply be too burdensome to manage all the sales brackets and filings. So prices will rise even more cover the new administrative overhead. The inevitable result will be the erosion of small online retail companies and the loss of more high-tech jobs.

What's really sad about this, is that there is a simple solution to at least preventing the admin overhead cost.... have the shipping companies levy the tax. They are already fully equipped to levy charges per zip-code. There are only a handful of companies involved, and they are all large businesses. So the new overhead for them would be negligible.

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