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Amazon To Collect Indiana Sales Tax In 2014

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the slowly-losing-the-war dept.

Businesses 413

An anonymous reader writes with this quote from an Associated Press report: "Amazon.com will begin collecting Indiana's 7 percent sales tax from customers in the state in 2014, under an agreement announced Monday. ... Gov. Mitch Daniels' office said Indiana will become the fourth state with such a tax collection agreement with Seattle-based Amazon. It follows a lawsuit by Indianapolis-based shopping mall owner Simon Property Group against the state over the issue and a lobbying push on state legislators by traditional retailers to end what they call an unfair price advantage for online retailers. The deal doesn’t include any other companies, but Daniels said the state is asking Congress to require all online businesses to collect state sales taxes."

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413 comments

Taxes (4, Insightful)

cyachallenge (2521604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658232)

Well good for them. I don't really see a problem with this.

Re:Taxes (4, Insightful)

ClaraBow (212734) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658294)

Speak for yourself! I live in Indiana! Simon Property Group is a greedy company that have taken over many Malls across Indiana! I"m still going to shop online -- price and selection can not be beat!

Re:Taxes (5, Insightful)

246o1 (914193) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658558)

Speak for yourself! I live in Indiana! Simon Property Group is a greedy company that have taken over many Malls across Indiana! I"m still going to shop online -- price and selection can not be beat!

And now you will be paying to have police and roads and schools while you shop online, yay!

Re:Taxes (5, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658644)

And now you will be paying to have police and roads and schools while you shop online, yay!

I already pay for police and roads and schools while I shop online, because I shop online from the comfort of my own home, upon which I pay outrageous property taxes.

Re:Taxes (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658906)

Speak for yourself! I live in Indiana! Simon Property Group is a greedy company that have taken over many Malls across Indiana! I"m still going to shop online -- price and selection can not be beat!

And now you will be paying to have police and roads and schools while you shop online, yay!

He doesn't use those things. He lives in his basement ;)

Re:Taxes (5, Insightful)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658308)

Sales taxes of all kinds can be considered 'double dipping' as your income is already taxed. Additionally, they are regressive taxes.

When doing business with amazon, you are entering into a private transaction that is (probably) not within the state's borders or jurisdiction, unless Amazon is incorporated in that state. Congress is granted the right to regulate interstate commerce, they have not done so in this case. They're also required to make such duties equal across all 50 states, which is probably not going to be a popular move.

So in general I think this is a bad thing, and the only thing worse would be for brick-and-mortar retailers to lobby congress and make it legal.

Re:Taxes (5, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658522)

Except that the purchasers still owe sales/use taxes to the state. Your transaction with Amazon is no more "private" than with a local grocery store.

Re:Taxes (3, Interesting)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658728)

The brick-and-mortar retailers should explain to Indiana voters how replacing the regressive state sales tax with a higher progressive income tax would benefit the 99%.

Tripple dipping (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658922)

They tax your money when you earn it. They tax it when you spend it. And they continue taxing you so long as you keep what you spent it on.

Also, they tax you extra for living in specific regions and again for working in specific regions, sometimes.

The only to escape taxes is to be very rich.

Humans are awesome.

Re:Taxes (3, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659066)

Not all states have income taxes.

And it's not double dipping if the state income tax would have been higher if sales tax weren't there to keep the budget balanced.

Re:Taxes (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658512)

The power to tax is the power to destroy. The 14th Amendment specifically prevents laws from applying to different people in different ways. It was passed to prevent Jim Crow laws. This is just a 100% attack against a targeted business that is unconstitutional and bordering on the laws that prevented blacks from voting and serving on juries after the Civil War.

Re:Taxes (3)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658524)

Amazon agreeing voluntarily to something is an attack?

Haha tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658618)

Tax is for suckers who are too stupid to avoid paying it.

But not in VA (4, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658280)

Amazon are about to open a new distribution center near Richmond VA, and local retailers are a bit pissed that Amazon will not be collecting sales tax from VA residents.

Amazon purchases to remain free of Va. sales taxes [timesdispatch.com]

Re:But not in VA (2)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658360)

Well this puts Amazon on a more even footing with Barnes and Noble, since they are stuck paying local taxes and are having trouble competing with Amazon.

Re:But not in VA (4, Interesting)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658680)

Well this puts Amazon on a more even footing with Barnes and Noble, since they are stuck paying local taxes and are having trouble competing with Amazon.

Hmm, I sense the possibility of a science fiction story here. Some alternate future where "even footing" is not accomplished by removing impediments from those who are limited, but by adding impediments to those who are unfairly gifted.

All Hail the God of "Even Footing".

Re:But not in VA (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658382)

It sounds like the state should have written its laws a bit different. Lexington, KY has a big distribution center and KY collects sales tax from those sales.

Re:But not in VA (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658432)

It sounds like the state should have written its laws a bit different. Lexington, KY has a big distribution center and KY collects sales tax from those sales.

Well from the article I quoted

Amazon has exploited a loophole by structuring its business operations in a way that its fulfillment centers are not legally considered the entity that makes the sale, and thus do not have to collect and remit sales taxes

So I am not sure how VA has structured its laws differently from other states that are collecting sales tax

Re:But not in VA (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658532)

That loophole probably only exists in VA. Most states it's "Has any presence what so ever". So even if they just have a distribution center they still collect taxes.

Re:But not in VA (1)

OnlineAlias (828288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658634)

So does Indiana. Amazon got a special exception because of this, but no longer....

Re:But not in VA (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658776)

Just do what us Canadians do. Find somewhere just over the border and open up a PO box. Have things shipped there. Pick it up to avoid sales tax. Should be even easier since you don't have to go through customs when crossing the border. If they don't deliver to PO boxes, then there's other ways around it. There are businesses where you can set up an account, and will sign for your delivery. Things are shipped to a regular, not PO Box address, and you can pick up your items PO Box style. Walmart site to store works nicely too. Plan a trip to the US. Order something to the Walmart just over the border. Pick it up when you are there. Even with duty fees, you can still save quite a bit.

The Little Guy (3, Informative)

ThomasLB (1220384) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658292)

The state I live in, Texas, doesn't just have a state sales tax, we've also got county and city sales taxes- and each city and county sets their own, within guidelines set by the state. This is going to be a nightmare for retailers to keep up with, especially the little guys.

Re:The Little Guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658324)

I think if they can keep track of 200k+ items they can figure out taxes...

Re:The Little Guy (1)

WilliamGeorge (816305) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658358)

Sure, Amazon can probably handle it with minimal impact (though you can be sure that added costs will get passed along to consumers) - but what of the small businesses this begins to set a standard for? Mom & pop shops suddenly having to deal with orders of magnitudes more on the financial side... it *would* drive a lot of companies to either restrict sales by regions or go out of business entirely.

Re:The Little Guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658420)

If only there were some automated system we could use to retrieve the tax % breakdown given a zipcode.

Re:The Little Guy (3, Insightful)

WilliamGeorge (816305) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658452)

Hmm, can that same system automatically write the appropriate checks to the dozens (or hundreds, in states with county / city level taxes) of different government entities on the right time schedule for each one, keeping track of all of it in case of an audit, and not costing enough to drive a small business into debt? Yeah, didn't think so...

Re:The Little Guy (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658488)

Checks, really? Can't you just transfer money?

Re:The Little Guy (1)

markana (152984) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658462)

Tax rates don't follow zip codes at all. A given taxing area may span multiple zip codes, and a zip code may (and probably does) cover multiple different tax areas. Furthermore, each taxing district may have it's own special rules and exemptions - it's never a simple percentage.

Got the tax code for every little county/town/tax district in the entire country handy? As a very small app seller, it's going to be a nightmare.

Re:The Little Guy (1, Flamebait)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658590)

The first objection, that a taxing area may span multiple zip codes, is no objection at all. Knowledge of customer zip code would still tell you all you need to know about how much to tax a customer.

The second objection, that one zip code may cover multiple taxing areas, is more serious. However, I tend to doubt that there is any example of it. Can you cite one? It just wouldn't make sense, since it would basically make all mail order impossible to conduct.

In any case, as you point out, every individual small business cannot be expected to have access to the tax code for every tax code for the country. I don't think they would have to. A business or businesses would spring up to take care of this for them. A subscription web site, where you just enter a zip code and a product price and category, and it will spit out the tax for you, and in fact take your tax payment information on the spot and arrange tax payments from your account to all the appropriate jurisdictions at the prescribed intervals. I don't want to minimize the complexity, but a subscription service can certainly handle this with minimum hassle to the subscribing businesses.

Re:The Little Guy (2)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658692)

Zipcodes can and do span counties, much less cities. Some cities and counties have their own taxes (ie if you're in the county you pay an extra .5% and if you're in the city you pay the .5 and an additional .5 percent).

There are even zipcodes that span states. That's even more of a nightmare.

For example, some northern parts of Arkansas have the Protem Missouri Zip Code.

Re:The Little Guy (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658700)

I live in a city, which surrounds some unincorporated bits here and there. If my city had a city Sales tax, how would you distinguish between the the two sides of the street (literally) differently? Zip Code won't do it.

Granted this is hypothetical, since my city doesn't have a sales tax, but it easily could.

Re:The Little Guy (2)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658706)

The second objection, that one zip code may cover multiple taxing areas, is more serious. However, I tend to doubt that there is any example of it. Can you cite one?

Uh, this is easy. The zip code where I live covers areas both inside and outside of the limits of the city. The tax rate inside the city is different than the tax rate outside it.

Zip codes are set by the postal service, and don't generally follow boundaries set by the local government (which frequently change, unlike zip codes.) He's right, you can't assume anything based on zip code.

Re:The Little Guy (3, Informative)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658742)

Ok, heres a good starting point. These zipcodes are shared between two states. I can guarantee that the taxing for these zipcodes would be different depending on what side of the state line you live on. http://maps.huge.info/zips_in_multiple_states.htm [huge.info]

Re:The Little Guy (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658822)

You can't use just the 5-digit zip code, the full Zip+4 has to be used. For example, the Oklahoma tax calculator needs the Zip+4. http://oktax.csa.ou.edu/Rate_Locator/index.jsf [ou.edu]

For example, the zip code I live in, 80234, covers more than one county (Adams, and Broomfield), and about 7 different cities.

http://www.zipareacode.net/zip-code-80234.htm [zipareacode.net]

Re:The Little Guy (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658666)

Tax rates don't follow zip codes at all. A given taxing area may span multiple zip codes, and a zip code may (and probably does) cover multiple different tax areas.

I'm sure there may be a tax area that spans multiple zip codes but that's not really an issue. But do you have an example of a zip code that covers multiple different tax areas? If so, how is the area and jurisdiction defined? Are these guys [zip2tax.com] full of it?

Re:The Little Guy (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658724)

According to Wikipedia, there are several locations in which the location is in one state, but it's serviced from another (thus having the others zipcode). See the link below (towads the bottom of the section)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZIP_code#By_geography [wikipedia.org]

You could likely differentiate by extended 4 to get the right tax amount, but you may not have the extended 4.. that would mean subscribing to a service that can locate it.

Re:The Little Guy (2)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658768)

Are these guys [zip2tax.com] full of it?

No, but they actually support the person you are replying to. If you read their FAQ [zip2tax.com] , it says:

Do tax jurisdictions match up with ZIP codes?

Sometimes tax districts are based on factors other than ZIP code. There are a few locations within certain states that have more than one tax jurisdiction for a single ZIP code. This can make it tricky to determine which rate to use based solely upon the 5 digit ZIP code.

We’ve made it possible for you determine which rate to use by providing multiple results for these locations. Zip2Tax default result is the municipality that is home to the U.S. Post Office – in the Tax Tables, this location is denoted with a "1" in the Primary Record column. The other rows for that ZIP code show all of the other communities sharing the same ZIP code.

You can manually select the row with the closest city and special district match, or, if you are a Database Interface or Tax Tables subscriber, you may be able to program your systems to automatically make the match.

Re:The Little Guy (3, Interesting)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658564)

Zip code's not enough. The item type itself will cause different tax rates. For example, clothes vs. housewares may have different sales tax rates. Carbonated beverages often have additional taxes that other products don't.

Furthermore, how the item will be used can vary how it is taxed. An example being Canada, where clothes bought for dependent children are tax exempt, but not clothes bought for oneself. You have to declare at the register how the tax will be applied. While this may seem extraordinary, it does happen in the US as well. Off the top of my head, I know that the sales tax for California is different for food sold as groceries vs. food sold for immediate consumption (on or off premises). Ordering a sandwich at Subway's "toasted" (aka heated) triggers a different tax rate at the register.

These arbitrary taxation systems exist at all levels of government (Federal, State, County, Municipality) and often there are further breakdowns for special economic zones or redevelopment areas.

Oh, and zip code lookup isn't enough. Zip codes are defined by the Postal Service and do not necessarily respect county and city borders. I have family members living within the city limits of one of the 10 largest cities in the US, yet their official zip code and street address belong to a neighboring suburb city (pop ~200,000). I guarantee a zip code lookup would result in the wrong tax rate.

Finally, in a zip-code lookup, which tax rate applies? Where the seller has their headquarters, where the distribution facility is, the purchaser's billing address, or the delivery address? They could all be in the state and easily still have different tax rates.

Re:The Little Guy (2)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658986)

If only there were some automated system we could use to retrieve the tax % breakdown given a zipcode.

The problem is zip code is not fine-grained enough to cover the different tax jurisdictions.

For example: California has multiple overlapping tax rates ranging from state, to county, to city, to school district, to water district, etc. The tax rate can literally be different from one side of the street to the other. Also the changes in the tax rates do not occur on a single date. Many of these taxes were created through special ballot initiatives to pay for specific public works, and run for a period of time calculated to pay off the specific debt, meaning one can end today, and another next week and another in 6 months... and new ones can be added any time.

As a brick and mortar store, this isn't too difficult to deal with -when you get your business license you get a sheet of paper that tells you what tax rates apply to your location and to whom you must submit your payments. You (usually) get a piece of paper in the mail telling you when something is about to change.

For an online business it is incredibly difficult to determine what taxes apply to each and every individual purchaser everywhere in the USA.

Re:The Little Guy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658868)

Sure, Amazon can probably handle it with minimal impact ... but what of the small businesses this begins to set a standard for? Mom & pop shops suddenly having to deal with orders of magnitudes more on the financial side.

Ding-ding-ding! that's why Amazon has been voicing support for a federal action on Internet taxation; Amazon has already made it to the top, now they need to make sure no more upstarts can knock them off.

Re:The Little Guy (1)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658402)

There's COTS software you can buy to do this - no worries. I've written point of sale software in the past and it wasn't too difficult. For Texas, as I remember, the tax is figured at the place of business, so wherever those servers are performing the sale is where the tax will be set.

Re:The Little Guy (1)

WilliamGeorge (816305) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658490)

And what do you do when the server isn't in Texas? That is the issue at hand here, if brick & mortar retailers get their way and Congress changes laws to require all online sales to remit state and local sales taxes. Suddenly things are much, much more complex. It needs to be either left alone (as it is now) or overhauled completely and made much simpler. I've got a top-level thread going below about that idea, and it is something I have written about elsewhere in the past. Kind of a close-to-home issue, as I work for a small business that sells all over the US.

Re:The Little Guy (1)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658594)

Just an assumption - but in this case I think the Texas state comptroller issues sales tax certificates - so they will set the rates.

I think that every state will eventually start issuing sales and use certificates for companies that want to sell into their state. That still won't be entirely fair, but it's the only simple solution I can imagine.

Re:The Little Guy (4, Informative)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658812)

I think that every state will eventually start issuing sales and use certificates for companies that want to sell into their state.

States cannot regulate interstate commerce, that's explicitly reserved to Congress. Any solution will have to come from Congress.

Re:The Little Guy (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658338)

And maybe that's Amazon's master plan ... all the little guys just set up Amazon Webstores, and let Amazon handle all the details (for a fee, of course).

Re:The Little Guy (2)

schwep (173358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658478)

The only reason Indiana is collecting is because Amazon has 3 (soon to be 4) distribution plants in the state. They have a physical local presense & are 'part of the community' therefore they must pay the state taxes. If they want to be tax free for Indiana folks, close the plants, lay the workers off & stay in Washington.

Re:The Little Guy (2)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658942)

The state I live in, Texas, doesn't just have a state sales tax, we've also got county and city sales taxes- and each city and county sets their own, within guidelines set by the state. This is going to be a nightmare for retailers to keep up with, especially the little guys.

I'm a pretty free-market type guy, but this is really something the government should be handling. Currently, it's up to businesses to figure out all the different tax rates (or hire someone to do it) and apply them to their sales. For the small business, the only way they can realistically comply is to hire a company which collects and updates the tax rates and puts it into a database for them. The problem is these companies always indemnify themselves against errors. So a small business could be doing its best to comply with the tax laws, but if they failed to collect $5000 because company making the databae screwed up and entered an incorrect tax rate, they are on the hook for the $5k, not the company making the tax database. There's a disconnect between the party responsible for the error and the party that has to pay for it.

This really needs a Federal government program handling this. All the tax jurisdictions in the country should be required to submit and update their tax rates to a Federal web site in order for the tax to be considered effective. Business can then go to this Federal web site and download the latest tax rate table every day. If a business fails to do so and doesn't collect the right sales tax, they are liable for any shortfall. If a city or state fails to update their tax info on the web site, then they are liable and lose out on any shortfall. And if the web site goes down, the Federal government is liable for erroneous sales tax collections that day. Each party in the process is responsible for their own errors, none for the errors of others.

Re:The Little Guy (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659062)

You buy one of several packages.

They calculate sales tax and maintain the tables to keep it correct in all states.

It really should be the federal and state govt job tho.

They should have a site your computer system can access to get the sales tax.

Stock up while you can (2)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658318)

Oh well. It couldn't last forever. Stock up while you can before the feds step in.
I actually agree it's an unfair advantage over brick and mortar stores but I'll still miss nontax purchasing anyway.

Re:Stock up while you can (1, Insightful)

stms (1132653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658468)

Wow you know this country's in the toilet when you see comments expecting the government to ruin a good thing. 200 years ago we fought for lower taxes with representation. The irony is that now we don't have proper representation and we have some of the highest taxes in the world.

Re:Stock up while you can (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658508)

The irony is that now we don't have proper representation and we have some of the highest taxes in the world.

Our taxes aren't particularly high for a developed country, and if we aren't properly represented it's because we got what we voted for, or didn't vote.

Re:Stock up while you can (1)

crontabminusell (995652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658852)

You forgot about that other class of people: "I voted and the retarded majority won again."

Re:Stock up while you can (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658966)

You forgot about that other class of people: "I voted and the retarded majority won again."

Representative government doesn't mean that you're entitled to have your candidate win.

Re:Stock up while you can (1)

246o1 (914193) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658660)

Wow you know this country's in the toilet when you see comments expecting the government to ruin a good thing. 200 years ago we fought for lower taxes with representation. The irony is that now we don't have proper representation and we have some of the highest taxes in the world.

I didn't do anything 200 years ago. And your second (most wrong) part needs a citation, perhaps something from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tax_revenue_as_percentage_of_GDP [wikipedia.org]

No one gives a damn (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658320)

Slashdot is for faggots.

Re:No one gives a damn (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658544)

That explains why you're here, but what about me?

Added burden for small businesses :( (1)

WilliamGeorge (816305) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658328)

The problem I have with this is not that it is necessarily wrong from any ethical standpoint, but that it would be a *massive* additional burden on small businesses. Any online company selling outside of its state would have to keep track of potentially 50 times as many different sales taxes (not all states have sales tax, I am aware), and then the rules each state has for remitting sales tax (when, where, etc). As someone who works at a small business (a couple dozen employees) I can tell you this would be a huge extra load for our financial department.

Long-term I would love to see a national sales tax replace many (all?) of the existing taxes, as it would be much cleaner and I think more fair as well. Then a central agency, maybe the IRS, could take in all sales tax revenue and split it up according to the feds + state of sale origin + state of company + local municipalities... and that, if done correctly, could lower the overall manpower burden of the tax system, freeing up more of the taxes for doing what they are actually for.

Re:Added burden for small businesses :( (1)

Panaflex (13191) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658504)

...could lower the overall manpower burden of the tax system, freeing up more of the taxes for doing what they are actually for.

I'm pretty sure the tax system today is used as a competitive advantage by large companies to squash small competitors. Large entities get breaks, grants and use foreign loopholes to funnel cash and avoid some legitimate taxes all together.

Bad precedent (2, Insightful)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658336)

This, along with the other states that already got in on this, sets a really bad precedent. Taxing companies that don't exist in that state is really overstepping the bounds of the U.S. Constitution. Can each state start setting their own tariffs next?

Re:Bad precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658446)

I like paying for stuff tax free, but I agree if you owned a normal business the online retailer does have a leg up in the pure price advantage.

However it is a huge disincentive to do interstate commerce when you have to go over every state & likely county (dare we go on a per-city basis too?) to keep track of every sales tax law there may be to make sure everything is fair.

Re:Bad precedent (2, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658652)

Amazon can keep track of the laws in every square mile of the US without causing any discernible dip in their revenues. Granted this may be a headache for a small winery trying to sell online perhaps but Amazon isn't in that category.

Normally states do not care about the small guys. It is up to the individual citizens to report and pay their sales tax often. The states are going after the big online retailers because they are seriously disrupting brick-and-mortar retail operations. Maybe some technophiles may wish these small retailers to go out of business and die so that everything can be online only (saves the hassle of leaving mom's basement) but it is a major economic burden. Business go under, jobs get lost, tax revenue for small towns shrink even more, etc. You can't just excuse this by just applauding Amazon for gaming the system better than anyone else.

Re:Bad precedent (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658862)

Amazon can keep track of the laws in every square mile of the US without causing any discernible dip in their revenues. Granted this may be a headache for a small winery trying to sell online perhaps but Amazon isn't in that category.

Bingo. Expecting Internet retailers to collect your sales tax is another case of fscking over the little guy who can't afford to waste their time collecting dozens of taxes for different states.

Re:Bad precedent (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658460)

They aren't taxing the company, they're taxing the buyer. Amazon just agreed (without being forced to, at least from what I can tell) to collect the money right at the time of sale.

Re:Bad precedent (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658722)

That's irrelevant though. Interstate commerce is by definition a transaction in which one party (Amazon in this case) resides outside the state. The residency of the other party is irrelevant, as long as it's a different state. The correct resolution to this problem is Federal legislation or a constitutional amendment which modifies the Commerce Clause. Not for states to file lawsuit after lawsuit against individual companies until they kowtow to the state's (currently unconstitutional) desires.

Re:Bad precedent (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658830)

The state didn't file any lawsuit, though. Amazon itself agrees there should be legislation and that they should collect the tax.

Re:Bad precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658638)

Pretty much the only person besides me and you that gives two shits about the 10th amendment is the unfortunately racist loon Ron Paul. At this point everybody else is comfortable with the interstate commerce clause meaning anything they want it to mean, and with the idea that all of us should have to live under the exact same laws determined by a central government* even though we vehemently disagree on what those laws should be -- and the disagreeing parties can largely be separated by geographic region.

*No republican or libertarian I know of considers less national government to mean that states could then become ultra-liberal, which is unfortunate.

Re:Bad precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658786)

I wouldn't call Ron Paul a racist. He may have racist staff who wrote something in his newsletters, but he distanced himself from it.

Re:Bad precedent (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658764)

please point out where in the constitution does it guarantee tax free interstate commerce

Re:Bad precedent (3, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658888)

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 borrow Money on the credit of the United States; To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

Since congress has not levied an excise or impost upon interstate transactions, and the states do not have the power to do such, then we are guaranteed, via the US Constitution, of tax-free interstate commerce, with respect to any sales tax.

Re:Bad precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658816)

Actually, Amazon has at least 4 distribution centers in Indiana. The state repealed a sales-tax collection law in 2007 to lure Amazon to the state - http://www.ibj.com/study-state-loses-millions-annually-in-online-sales-taxes/PARAMS/article/30922

From what I can interpret, you're already supposed to pay sales tax on Internet purchases in Indiana. See Schedule 4 and the related section in the instruction booklet at the Indiana Department of Revenue - http://www.in.gov/dor/4546.htm

As an Indiana resident, I'm still not sure how I feel about this. It does make the big guys pay the same taxes local businesses would have to, but I think it would be a huge burden on an Internet seller to keep up with the individual tax laws in each state.

Another reason not to move to Indiana (1, Insightful)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658340)

As if I needed another.

What I remember most about the state are the tolls on I80. They must like their taxes!

Online Retailers Will Still Win (1)

Jhyrryl (208418) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658376)

They can claim that online retailers have an unfair advantage and pass this legislation. What they will discover is that the online retailers will still win customers' money.

Re:Online Retailers Will Still Win (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658502)

It's Amazon themselves saying that the legislation should be passed.

Re:Online Retailers Will Still Win (1)

Jhyrryl (208418) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658732)

Amazon made an agreement; that doesn't mean that they were actively asking to be taxed. From the article:

"[The agreement] follows a lawsuit by Indianapolis-based shopping mall owner Simon Property Group against the state over the issue and a lobbying push on state legislators by traditional retailers to end what they call an unfair price advantage for online retailers."

Re:Online Retailers Will Still Win (1)

Jhyrryl (208418) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658754)

To be fair, the article does state that Amazon supports such legislation. But again, they aren't being pro-active in collecting said tax and providing it to appropriate states; they are only responding to pressure from states on a case-by-case basis.

Re:Online Retailers Will Still Win (1)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658506)

That's probably right. The selection online is simply better and comparison shopping is easier. Sure, I might find what I want locally if I look hard enough, pay higher prices, drive to enough stores, and spend oodles of $$ on gasoline. But most of the time I can't find what I want or need in a brick & mortar store locally.

If I have to pay a little bit in taxes to shop online, I'm still saving money.

My feelings on taxing online sales is this: If nobody in my state sells an item, then don't make me pay taxes on it because I had to buy it somewhere else.

physical remailers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658384)

Sounds like some enterprising person could establish a business with an address in another state that would act as your shipping address (which I'm sure is how they figure out whether to collect the tax) and then forward packages on to residents of Indiana. It would only be viable for expensive items, but it'd probably be worthwhile enough of the time.

Re:physical remailers? (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658622)

Sounds like some enterprising person could establish a business with an address in another state that would act as your shipping address (which I'm sure is how they figure out whether to collect the tax) and then forward packages on to residents of Indiana. It would only be viable for expensive items, but it'd probably be worthwhile enough of the time.

It's a great idea, but I'm afraid this business would immediately get shut down as a fraud. Somebody who is not the buyer effectively posing as the buyer would be frowned upon.

Re:physical remailers? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658960)

It's a great idea, but I'm afraid this business would immediately get shut down as a fraud. Somebody who is not the buyer effectively posing as the buyer would be frowned upon.

And yet, they exist today. Google "remailing services". Top of the sponsored links:USA2ME [usa2me.com] .

Nobody is "effectively posing" as anyone. You're using a ship-to address that shows up one place, and you are paying someone there to reship it. Who cares if it is "frowned upon" as long as it is legal?

Filed Under "W" For "Whatever" (4, Insightful)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658410)

The only beneficiary of this will be the state of Indiana. Amazon's prices are already (typically) lower than what I can get them for in a store and I don't have to put up with parking lots, shitty cashiers, nor someone trying to pressure me into getting the "extended warranty". I don't have to wander around the store trying to find it, and I don't have to deal with my items either not being carried by them or else out of stock. And now Amazon has the right to demand the same level of government services that the brick-and-mortar retailers are getting. So 3 years from now, when the anachronistic "main street" retailers finally figure out that sales tax wasn't the issue, it will likely be too late for them to do anything about it.

Fair's fair. (5, Insightful)

purplie (610402) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658416)

Retailers gripe about people using their shop for browsing, then buying on Amazon --- but nobody mentions the people (I'm one) who use Amazon for reading reviews, while they're shopping and buying in the retail store.

As far as the tax goes --- I don't buy it. Local taxes help pay for local services. The fireman will come if there's a fire in their shop. Amazon already pays taxes in the location where they do business, and the fireman will come if there's a fire in their warehouse. And UPS and other shippers pay taxes where they operate, too.

Re:Fair's fair. (1)

David Greene (463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658678)

Retailers gripe about people using their shop for browsing, then buying on Amazon --- but nobody mentions the people (I'm one) who use Amazon for reading reviews, while they're shopping and buying in the retail store.

I do this all the time. I always buy as locally as I can both to support local businesses and to ensure that the public interest is served with the tax money I owe. Amazon does provide a nice review service, though I usually look other places first. That said, I will buy from an online retailer if I can't find the item anywhere else, which is distressingly more and more common.

I don't buy the "Amazon has no presence and thus no responsibility" argument. Amazon benefits hugely from local investments, from schools to roads (not fully paid for by the shippers, BTW), to public internet infrastructure. They have a responsibility to collect the taxes that contribute to upkeep of local infrastructure.

Re:Fair's fair. (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658976)

Amazon benefits hugely from local investments, from schools to roads (not fully paid for by the shippers, BTW), to public internet infrastructure. They have a responsibility to collect the taxes that contribute to upkeep of local infrastructure.

It isn't Amazon's fault if the state doesn't charge the shippers enough to pay for the roads.

Re:Fair's fair. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658686)

"HOW DARE THEY GET AWAY WITH NOT BEING STOLEN FROM!"

I'm glad I never fell prey to this particular form of Stockholm syndrome. I'll never blame the victim in place of the aggressor if I can help it.

Re:Fair's fair. (1)

silverhalide (584408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658726)

Uhh, Amazon is operating one or more facilities in Indiana now: http://www.theindychannel.com/money/27824383/detail.html [theindychannel.com] ..so good on Indiana for holding them to the same rules to which they hold other mail-order operations.

Amazon tried and got away with this shit in South Carolina - they scored a sales tax exemption despite setting up operations in the state:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/09/amazon-warehouse-spartanburg-county_n_1140145.html [huffingtonpost.com]

Now, why does Amazon get sales tax exemption with their nexus in the state, yet other mail order operations do not get sales tax exemptions? This is pure and simple government-corporate corruption, and only the small guy loses.

I live in Indiana (2)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658456)

And Amazon has been collecting taxes from me for ages. What the hell were those taxes?

Re:I live in Indiana (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658588)

You've obviously been a special person. They don't collect taxes from me. I'd ask Amazon about refunding your paid amounts.

Re:I live in Indiana (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658604)

Asshole Tax. :)

At least its not a "use" tax (0)

ylleKnaD (1826388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658476)

I live in Indiana. I am not fond of sales taxes, but even less fond of "use" taxes.

Indiana has attempted to tax internet and out-of-state purchases for years with a so-called "use" tax. There is a line on the income tax form where you are supposed to add up all out of state purchases where sales tax was not paid, and pay the equivalent sales tax rate for the right to use your purchased items in Indiana. The absurd thing about a "use" tax is it doesn't apply to purchases you paid other state's sales tax on.

If you register a new car bought out of state, and you paid less sales tax on the car than Indiana would have charged, Indiana will charge you the difference in when you apply for title in Indiana. The only way around this is to title the car in the other state and transfer it to Indiana latter.

Re:At least its not a "use" tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658750)

I avoid the USE tax by not using anything that I buy online. I just let it collect dust in my attic. Problem solved.

Re:At least its not a "use" tax (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38659078)

Pretty much all states (and in Canada, provinces) that have sales tax also have use tax arranged as you describe above. What's absurd about it?

Fair request (4, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658538)

First off, none of us like paying taxes, including sales tax. This legislation in question won't do away with sales taxes, and the discussion here should not really be about the legality of sales taxes.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I agree with the business owners. If I can buy something on line and not pay sales tax so get the good cheaper, how is that fair to a local store that must charge the sales tax? Simply put, it's not fair at all. Taxes should be based on the consumer's location, not the outlet's location. We do the same with insurance premiums, some interest rates, etc..

The loophole for internet stores hurts smaller businesses. It favors large companies that can pack up and move to places with the lowest tax rates to attract consumers. Much the same way that interest rate premiums favor the state with the highest legal rates *caugh* Delaware *caugh*.

As long as taxes are legal, I am all for making them as fair as possible.

Re:Fair request (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658840)

If I can buy something on line and not pay sales tax so get the good cheaper, how is that fair to a local store that must charge the sales tax?

That local store receives services from the local taxation district and Amazon does not. That local store chose to set up shop where they did, knowing that they had an additional cost to pass on to the customer. Mailorder isn't new. Sears and JCPenny were founded to deal with it, and their catalogs kept many rural residents warm and clean for decades.

What other costs accepted by the local stores should be arbitrarily added to the mail order companies just to make things "fair"? Should Amazon be charged "property taxes" based on an estimated amount of property? Well, where they are located they have X amount of property, and they do Y% of business in this state, so we'll charge them property tax on 100*Y*X. Yes? It's only fair.

Just paid tax on an Amazon purchase today (2)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658542)

Amazon had a nice sell today on Kindle versions of several textbooks, and I noticed that I was charged my state's sales tax to download them (no Amazon datacenters are in my state). IMHO, Amazon should place the name/picture of the legislator responsible right next to that line item. Preferably holding money bags.

Good, More Progress! (2, Insightful)

David Greene (463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658614)

This is really overdue. Not only does sales tax exemption create an unfair advantage for out-of-state retailers (which is bad for the local and thus national economy), it depletes funding for civilization. And yes, Amazon does use public infrastructure to operate its business and no, shippers do not pay the Amazon's share of that infrastructure. Amazon uses all sorts of local services. Amazon operates as part of our civilization and thus should be contributing to its upkeep.

Re:Good, More Progress! (1, Informative)

harvey the nerd (582806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658738)

Taxes are a price we pay to distort and destroy civilization, sort of like bashing the pinata.

Re:Good, More Progress! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38658748)

Funding for civilization? Oh please. Only if you equate big government with civilization. I think this is a be regressive step for Indiana. Instead of forcing Amazon to collect taxes, they should step up and stop forcing local retailers to collect taxes. That would be much healthier for the economy.

expatriate ripoffs (2)

harvey the nerd (582806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38658994)

Expatriate ripoff. The kids are living in the US receiving your mail including online bargain sales, or vice versa. With periodic pickups from travellers either way, state use/sales are a form of extortion, ripping off out of state residents. The "commercial license" or "refund application" bs just doesn't work. Guess we should buy direct from China or India, skip the middle (tax)man.

Things end with a whine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38659032)

Isn't it funny as American consumption starts to dive, that suddenly we think collecting state taxes outside of the state boundaries will somehow help states remain competitive? By the same logic, we could tax imports from China to aid American industry... unfortunately, it would just cause more people to enter poverty, since incomes have declined (after accounting for inflation) and the only thing maintaining American quality of life is substitution of goods (i.e., cheaper goods trying to do the same thing, just not for as long).

So, government should protect high-priced retailers from big-bad open market, since the retailers aren't competitive. Such an argument isn't capitalist and only represents the corruption within the American government (i.e., through lobbying and kickbacks).

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