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US Senate Passes National Internet Sales Tax Mandate

timothy posted about a year ago | from the man-vs-the-states dept.

Government 297

SonicSpike writes with the news that the U.S. Senate yesterday "passed a nonbinding proposal to allow states to collect sales tax on Internet sellers that have no presence within their borders. The proposal was an amendment to a 2014 budget bill that the Senate debated Friday. It was pushed by Senators Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, and Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and was designed to give backers a sense of whether they had enough votes to push forward with final legislation to impose an Internet sales tax. The vote showed they have plenty of backing to overcome any filibuster seeking to block a final sales tax bill."

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First! (State) (2, Informative)

Mystakaphoros (2664209) | about a year ago | (#43258299)

Shouldn't change life in Delaware much. We don't have sales tax, period.

Re:First! (State) (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#43258353)

Same in Oregon for pretty much anything that isn't tobacco or gasoline, and only one of those are practical for purchasing online.

OTOH, I am curious as to whether or not some neighboring state (*cough* California *cough*) would decide to charge me their sales tax rate for anything that an online retailer would sell to me if it comes out of a warehouse that is sitting within their borders...

It'll change a few dynamics, to say the least.

I do recall only one site online charging any sales tax - DAZ Productions [daz3d.com] used to charge sales tax to their Utah customers (back when I was one), because they themselves are in Utah. I'm sure there are similar setups out there...

Re:First! (State) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258449)

I'm sure there are similar setups out there...

Yeah, they're EVERYWHERE. OMG, THE REALITY! IT BURNS!

Re:First! (State) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258599)

It's complicated and, often, I believe they just totally make the rules up on the spot.

For example, if I live in a state without sales tax and I order something from a state with sales tax, I don't have to pay sales tax. However, if I live in a state without sales tax and I order something from a state with sales tax and I have it shipped to a person (as a gift, for example) in the same state that has sales tax, I have to pay sales tax.

At this point, I'm really looking for every edge on keeping my dollar that I can. I paid more in taxes for 2012 than my parents earned . . . combined . . . in 2011 and 2012. . . combined. And it's not like I'm wealthy. I live in in a sub $200k house in a blue-collar neighborhood, drive a seven year old car, and keep to a budget.

Re:First! (State) (1, Funny)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#43258617)

By today's definition you're rich. Pay up bitch!

Re:First! (State) (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258735)

At this point, I'm really looking for every edge on keeping my dollar that I can. I paid more in taxes for 2012 than my parents earned . . . combined . . . in 2011 and 2012. . . combined. And it's not like I'm wealthy. I live in in a sub $200k house in a blue-collar neighborhood, drive a seven year old car, and keep to a budget.

You're precisely the kind of person they're looking to soak. People on handouts don't have enough money to tax, and the really rich can afford accountants.

Re:First! (State) (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258625)

I am curious as to whether or not some neighboring state (*cough* California *cough*) would decide to charge me their sales tax rate for anything that an online retailer would sell to me if it comes out of a warehouse that is sitting within their borders...

Why do you assume that this would change the law regarding that? The issue here is that the tax is owed but not collected under these circumstances. In most states, you still owe tax when you purchase online. It's just that the state doesn't actually have any way to know to collect from you.

I do recall only one site online charging any sales tax - DAZ Productions [daz3d.com] used to charge sales tax to their Utah customers (back when I was one), because they themselves are in Utah. I'm sure there are similar setups out there...

That's just how sales taxes work. Amazon charges tax to Washington customers for that reason and has always done that. The reason why you may not have seen it often is that there aren't that many online sites located in Utah that are subject to sales tax. If you lived in California, you might find it more common.

Re:First! (State) (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258683)

As an Oregon online retailer, I can say that this will be big pain in the ass, because I'll go from collecting tax for zero states to collecting tax for 46 states, and having to calculate all the various kinds of taxes levied by cities and municipalities. It's going to be a fucking nightmare, which is why the supreme court stopped it in the first place.

At least Ron Wyden is doing his damn job by fighting it.

Re:First! (State) (0)

SerpentMage (13390) | about a year ago | (#43258861)

Excuse me, but how effen hard is this? If operating systems can keep track of timezones then how hard is it to keep track a sales tax? It is not that difficult. Or how about software that knows where you live by the zip code, or the telephone you call from, or even the IP address you use to log onto the Internet.

Sorry, but this "it is going to be an effen nightmare" is pure crap! People don't want to do this because they get an advantage over bricks and motar places.

Re:First! (State) (5, Insightful)

Daemonik (171801) | about a year ago | (#43258935)

You're not considering the other issues such as having to go through multiple state audits when they want to challenge if you're sending them enough of the revenue that you're collecting for them. Finding out that oops, this country in this state raised their tax rate and you didn't know but now they're taking you to court for not paying the right fees is not how you want to run a business.

In the end, the big chains that can afford it (Amazon) will have distribution centers in each state and completely dodge the issue, while all the added burden will go to their smaller competitors.

Re:First! (State) (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about a year ago | (#43258977)

It would be more reasonable for the seller's state to collect the tax. Before I even got to the comments I was thinking how idiotic it is to do this on the buyer's side due to the complications for any less-than-enormous business.

Re:First! (State) (1, Interesting)

RougeFemme (2871421) | about a year ago | (#43258979)

The issue is not that it's that effen hard - it's not. And larger retailers are already doing this. My zip code crosses 2 jurisdictions and a couple of the large retailers always ask me whether I live in jurisdiction A or B. We don't pay local sales taxes here, but obviously these large retailers are already collecting it in states that do. The issue for smaller retailers is cost.

Re:First! (State) (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43259047)

How many times have you done this before? I'm curious as to where your authority comes from to claim that it isn't difficult. The logistics may not be difficult but I'd be surprised if dealing with the various States and local municipalities is easy. But, do go on. It's obvious you've done this many times, that you're an authoritative source, and that you know what is and isn't difficult for someone.

Re:First! (State) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258909)

Actually it will just increase the costs a bit, as there are many software as a service vendors where for a fee, you can get the proper sales tax calculated. While this is not a recommendation, looking for sales tax collection software on the web identified several vendors, that caluclate the tax, fill out the forms for the states, etc. The first one was Avalara. But the list is longer. So the effort is not so much, but you might have to increase pricing a bit to pay for it.

Re:First! (State) (1, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#43259099)

That is why I think that we should be offered the option to apply a flat 10% sales tax that is collected by the shipping firm. Then the shipping firm is allowed to keep say 5% of that, for handling it. With this approach, it would make it trivial for anybody, including foreign firms, to pay the sales taxes. And at 10%, where will be districts that are higher than it, but on average, the majority is bought at around 7-8% sales tax. As such, this is not too far from where it needs to be, and it removes all of the overhead of paperwork, lawyers, etc.

Re:First! (State) (5, Interesting)

cob666 (656740) | about a year ago | (#43259135)

Before you can even collect sales tax you will have to register with each state and pay for a sales tax id ($100 for CT alone). I don't believe for a second that states are going to give sales and use tax ids away for free either. I don't see how this is going to work for anything but the largest online retailers and I'm still not convinced that this doesn't violate interstate commerce.

Instead of requiring retailers to PAY the sales tax, they should only be required to remit sales logs and let the state collect the use tax from whoever purchased the goods. But, that makes too much sense and would again put the responsibility on the state to collect the money when all they really want is a ride on the internet sales gravy train.

Re:First! (State) (2)

edmudama (155475) | about a year ago | (#43258359)

Until you get charged sales tax by the state in which the internet retailer exists.

Re:First! (State) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258469)

This was a non-binding resolution. yes, it's the start of the slippery slope, but it's not a real law (yet).

Re:First! (State) (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#43258505)

Shouldn't change life in Delaware much. We don't have sales tax, period.

Shouldn't change life anywhere. This is a non-binding resolution that has no force of law, even if it passed both chambers (and it hasn't). The only thing this means is that if congress actually decides to take up this issue in the future, it probably has the votes to pass. Which seems reasonable: I don't like paying taxes, but taxes should be fair. People are already required to pay these taxes, but evade them by buying from out of state merchants. If the merchants are required to collect the tax, the evasion is no longer possible, and warehouses and shipping centers can be located based on logistics rather than tax rates.

Re:First! (State) (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43258613)

Why should the burden be placed on the seller?

And maybe instead of saying "let's make it fair" (huh? fair? wtf are you talking about?), how about we say "let's address the fact that if you buy something from out of state, there's really no reason for the state to need to collect taxes on it"? I mean, what resource is being consumed by your external purchase? The use of the local roads, which the delivery company driving your product to your door already pays taxes on via gas (and their own taxation for doing business in the state, physically)?

It seems to me we're addressing the wrong "problem" and doing it in the wrong direction. It's like saying "let's make everything fair by sinking to the lowest common denominator".

Re:First! (State) (2)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#43258727)

Where else should it be placed?

Up until this point, they've had a competitive advantage over stores with an in state presence that do have to charge the sales tax, people self reporting makes no sense as it's entirely unfair to expect people to keep track of that many small purchases. And the shops already have accountants and billing software that handles that sort of thing.

The point of use tax is that it makes it harder to evade sales tax by charging taxes on all your purchases. Just because a purchase comes from out of state, doesn't make the things one uses in the state any less expensive nor does it mean that one should be able to avoid paying taxes in that fashion. In the past it was less of an issue because it would take weeks to get things via mail order, but these days, people do so regularly.

Re:First! (State) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258775)

On the taxing government. The hardest part of non-local sales tax is figuring out what the tax is. If those wishing to collect sales tax had to provide databases of taxable regions so that one could pop in an address and figure out what jurisdictions and taxes existed, retailers would only have to worry about coding their goods.

Even better, if one restricted it to state taxes instead of all the jurisdictional weirdness that comes with city, district, and county sales taxes.

Re:First! (State) (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#43259005)

Up until this point, they've had a competitive advantage over stores with an in state presence that do have to charge the sales tax, people self reporting makes no sense as it's entirely unfair to expect people to keep track of that many small purchases.

Often not... because goods in state could be purchased in person, without the additional cost of shipping added to the regular price of goods.

Strangely, the cost of shipping is often similar to or greater than the tax rate. So if you had to pay both a tax and extra shipping cost; the in-state business would be at a great advantage.

So in some cases the out-of-state goods have a cost advantage, in others they do not.

However, as far as the cost to the state is concerned... the shippers pay taxes. And there is very little state infrastructure used to conduct the marketing of out-of-state goods. It's unfair that the buyer or outer-of-state retailer be taxed, as if they needed all the local infrastructure required to support a retail store within the state.

Re:First! (State) (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258755)

It seems to me we're addressing the wrong "problem" and doing it in the wrong direction. It's like saying "let's make everything fair by sinking to the lowest common denominator".

What do you think nobody collecting tax or doing any of the things tax is collected for would be besides the "lowest common denominator"?

You'd have the situation where concerned citizens are free to build hospitals, roads, and schools if they feel there's a need ... you know, the Republican/Libertarian vision of the future in which the rich can afford private schools and armed guards, and the poor can fuck off and die: and as long as the police keeps the poor folks away, and the government enforces contract law and keeps taxes low, what's the problem?

States collect taxes to pay for the things they do on our behalf. That's how government does the things we've asked them to do because private concerns can't or won't do it -- at least not to our collective net benefit.

Rich people think all of the resources should be spent on making sure they pay as little as possible ... but they don't realize that if the rest of the populace is starving and poor, sooner or later they're going to come after you. Not trying to fix the problem leads to bigger costs for prisons instead of addressing the root cause of anything.

What they don't see is it costs an awful lot of resources to keep rich white folks secure and safely away from the teeming masses. The stuff to actually help out poor people isn't where most of the spending goes.

This Libertarian fantasy world where it was a totally free market and everything just worked is trite, romantic fantasy ... it's a utopian vision of something which simply could never actually happen, and which has never actually happened.

In some countries, we take paying taxes as the cost of doing business, in the knowledge that if shit really goes astray, there might be something to help out. American economics is being dictated by a bunch of people with an idealized view of an economy with no evidence it would work, or that you could ever transition into it without devolving into full on class warfare and anarchy.

You American are a bunch of greedy, selfish pricks who think that being a greedy, selfish prick is a virtue. The screeching voices have become so polarized that the right is incapable of saying without resorting to overblown hyperbole, ad hominem attacks, and religious zeal.

Re:First! (State) (2)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year ago | (#43258841)

I mean, what resource is being consumed by your external purchase?

Entirely irrelevant question. The question is, what resources are being consumed by the residents of the state? Take a look at your state's entire budget for the answer. The next question is, how do you pay for all of that? Only a few of those items are directly and entirely supported by specific use taxes, the rest must be paid for out of general funds, using whatever variety of taxation methods they have decided to use in that state, in whatever proportions they've agreed upon using their representative democracy. If they've decided X percent of that funding is to come from sales tax, then that's where it comes from. Why should anyone be exempted from paying the same share as everyone else (most people would call that "their fair share" but you seem to be allergic to the word "fair" for some reason)?

Re:First! (State) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258911)

Why should the burden be placed on the seller?

Because it is easier to enforce.

Re:First! (State) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258557)

Shouldn't change life in Delaware much. We don't have sales tax, period.

...says the last man who was able to brag about not having any sales tax...

With the US government pushing an internet sales tax (as if this thing called the internet only existed within US borders), good luck keeping your tax exempt status. As if the list of excuses they use to levy taxes we pay today weren't absurd enough, this will open the floodgates for anything bolted down that isn't taxed. Your local tax-free representatives will seem weak and ineffective by comparison.

Re:First! (State) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43259069)

The Enzi and Durbin amendment would allow the Senate Budget Committee to include the sales tax in the budget, providing it does not increase the federal deficit.

Hmmm this says otherwise. That is what they were testing to see if they had 61 votes to kill the chances of a filibusterer.

Re:First! (State) (2)

MitchDev (2526834) | about a year ago | (#43259141)

Yeah, one part of the article talks about collecting existing State sales taxes, but then another part mentions establishing an "Internet Sales tax". So we're gonna get "double-dipped", paying both state and local taxes AND a federal Internet Sales Tax if all this crap passes?

Uh oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258303)

This isn't going to be good for anyone.

Won't get anywhere in the House (1)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#43258323)

So, big deal. We all know how much the big spenders would love more money to waste though.

Booo, hiss... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258327)

Send the bums home!

Define "presence" (-1, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#43258331)

So massive corps like Amazon or Apple will just open a shell corporation with a PO box in every state, if they havent already, and for a few pennies, avoid the whole thing. How does this help? Wait, it screws small businesses and creates more barriers to competition. Yay corporatism.

Re:Define "presence" (2, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year ago | (#43258369)

Wrong. If they have a presence they already have to collect and remit sales tax as part of current State laws. This will just mean the States can collect tax on all sales. Right now most online sales go untaxed.

Re:Define "presence" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258497)

They can bite my shiny metal bitcoined ass.

Re:Define "presence" (0)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43258509)

And why should they be taxed if they don't have a physical presence in the state? What resources are they utilizing? The roads? That the delivery persons delivering your purchase already pay taxes on via gas taxes?

This is all about pigs wanting more money as a solution to budget problems, instead of adjusting their fucking budget, to begin with and backed by the big brick and mortar corps that can't stand up to the competition. (The idea that no taxation online is hurting local mom and pop stores is bullshit, because the big brick and mortar chains have already crushed mom and pop). They think if we have to pay taxes online, we'll buy from their local stores, instead. Guess what? It's not going to work. If I can buy it for the same price online as in person, I'm going to buy online and have it at my doorstep. In fact, I'm going to buy online even more, just to spite them.

Then, of course, there's also the issue that *it should not be the retailer's job to pay my taxes -- it should be mine*.

Re:Define "presence" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258607)

What resources are they utilizing? The roads?

That's how Amazon ships packages to me...

Re:Define "presence" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258871)

What resources are they utilizing? The roads?

That's how Amazon ships packages to me...

Love the creative editing in your "quoted text". LMFTFY:

I mean, what resource is being consumed by your external purchase? The use of the local roads, which the delivery company driving your product to your door already pays taxes on via gas...

Re:Define "presence" (3, Informative)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#43258679)

And why should they be taxed if they don't have a physical presence in the state?

Sigh. They proposal isn't to tax Amazon. It's to tax *you*. That's how consumption taxes work. So if you live in California and you order something from Amazon you'll pay CA sales tax, in the same way you would if you walked into Fry's.

Re:Define "presence" (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about a year ago | (#43258969)

Does impose a sort of compliance tax on Amazon. Does Amazon have to submit to auditing by every state's tax authorities too? Does Fry's submit scans of all customers' driver's licenses to every state?

Why don't states just send bills for the privilege of residing in them? Yeah, few would pay unless the government could justify its expenditures, which everyone knows are unjustifiable.

Re:Define "presence" (1)

bentit (2763157) | about a year ago | (#43258387)

If they have a presence then the state will collect sales tax. The concept here is that an online purchase made from an out-of-state company will be taxed by the state the purchaser resides in. California is already trying this by "requesting" taxes from out-of-state purchases on individual tax returns. I guess this bill is supposed to legitimize this practice.

Re:Define "presence" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258483)

Massachusetts does the same thing... but they allow you to 'pay' a $50 fine in order to not itemize it... hmmm

Many MA residents go shopping in Southern NH malls in order to not pay sales tax.

Re:Define "presence" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258389)

Uh. Not having a presence was how they were avoiding taxes in the first place. By opening a local office, they become subject to the local taxes.

Re:Define "presence" (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258485)

No, the law today dictates that having a presence within the state already requires that they pay sales tax. This is why Amazon and Apple already charge sales tax, as does any other company that has as little as a warehouse or fulfillment center located within your state. As it stands currently the state of the recipient can't charge sales tax if the company has no presence at all within the state and that is what this legislation intends to change. If this legislation passes then all companies will be required to charge the sales tax based on the jurisdiction of the recipient.

Today:
1. Someone living in New York orders a product online from a company based in New York. The company charges New York sales tax.
2. Someone living in New York orders a product online from a company based in New Jersey. That company has a warehouse in New York. The company charges New York sales tax.
3. Someone living in New York orders a product online from a company based in New Jersey. That company has no presence in New York. The company does not charge any sales tax.

If this Legislation Passes:
1. Someone living in New York orders a product online from a company based in New York. The company charges New York sales tax.
2. Someone living in New York orders a product online from a company based in New Jersey. That company has a warehouse in New York. The company charges New York sales tax.
3. Someone living in New York orders a product online from a company based in New Jersey. That company has no presence in New York. The company charges New York sales tax.

Of course there is the question as to what happens with international companies and various reasons why this won't work 100%, but that probably doesn't matter much. The reason, aside from generating state revenue, is to level the playing field with brick and mortar stores who have lobbied heavily for this legislation for many years.

People living in Delaware and Oregon won't notice much either way as their state doesn't charge sales tax. Businesses in Hawai'i get a double-whammy, though as instead of a sales tax they have a business excise tax which the business is required to pay and may pass along to the consumer, so if someone in New York orders something from Hawai'i that business would be required to pay the Hawai'i business excise tax and charge New York sales tax.

Re:Define "presence" (1)

CheeseTroll (696413) | about a year ago | (#43258745)

Why would they do that? Sales tax is *already* collected on internet retailers with a presence in a given state. This bill would allow states to collect sales taxes even if the internet retailer does not have a presence, but that doesn't mean that establishing a presence would exclude them.

So now the US is forcing foreign online purchases (0, Troll)

ZeroNullVoid (886675) | about a year ago | (#43258339)

So let me get this straight, it is only National Internet Sales Tax. This sounds like a good way to stimulate all economies except the US. I guess I will be buying more stuff from foreign locations. The US already made that cheaper than buying from the US prior with huge import and shipping cost reductions... now not having tax. The only thing the US had for them before was quicker shipping by about a week or two.

I think this will be a nightmare to regulate... although I am sure many online sites will get around it by it not being a first sale doctrine anymore. The store buys things and then resell as second hand items...

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (3, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year ago | (#43258379)

It is not a National tax. It will just allow the States, not the Feds, to collect existing sales taxes on online sales.

The knee jerk reactions around here are amazing sometimes.

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43258543)

Collecting existing sales taxes on online sales . . . that are NOT in their state.

If I cross the border into Oregon and buy some groceries, I don't pay sales tax. If I return back to Washington with those groceries, should the Oregon grocery store be forced to report the spending and pay the sales tax to Oregon for the money I spent, based on Washington's sales tax?

This is all overly complicated money-grabbing bullshit and anyone celebrating the idea is naive. At the most, sales tax should be enforced and it should be the job of the resident to facilitate accounting and payment; not some retailer in another state who has nothing to do with you.

The ass-licking around here is even more amazing, sometimes.

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258581)

Being able to articulate what this legislation means to someone who clearly completely misunderstood it doesn't imply favor, let alone "ass-licking." You don't defeat your enemy by being ignorant of it.

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#43258671)

no, but someone in oregon who crosses into washington does pay sales tax.

likewise if you live in oregon and buy online they COULD have colelcted sales tax on the sale. however, right now, states by and large DONT in these situations.

its a bit of a legal tangle currently, and this is the first step being taken in answering the so-far-unanswered legal questsions involved, and normalizing it to be the same as physical sales. its not a money grab, no asslicking.

you are however woefully ignorant, and apparently prone to knee jerk vitriol.

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#43258693)

and to top it off, this isnt even an actual law yet.
if you (SUemas) had RTFA, its merely a nonbinding proposal. not even a resolution, definitely not a law. merely a proposal, to gauge reactions, open debate, and get dialogue started for the purposes of answering those not yet answered questions.
(further illustrating just how ignorant you are)

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (2)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#43258753)

Not true, if you're an Oregonian that passes into Washington, you show your ID and they're not supposed to charge you any sales tax.

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (3, Informative)

Killian35 (1321571) | about a year ago | (#43259045)

In Washington, the seller is under no obligation to exempt any nonresident buyer from sales tax. If the seller chooses to not collect tax on a sale, the buyer must meet the exemption rules, such as being from a state with no sales tax.

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#43258731)

The ass-licking around here is even more amazing, sometimes.

You know there are places with no sales tax or income tax or just about any tax. Really small government. No regulations. No gun laws. Libertarian paradise.

But if you decide to move to Somalia, bring a bottle of Pepto Bismal. And say hello to John Galt. Oh wait, never mind because he's fictional.

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258627)

It is not a National tax. It will just allow the States, not the Feds, to collect existing sales taxes on online sales.

The knee jerk reactions around here are amazing sometimes.

Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset your tea time with the idea of yet another concept to ensure taxes are collected. Gee, I feel so much fucking better now that you've clarified which crook wants even more of my money. Oh wait, I'm sorry, I guess every single person who has ever bought anything online is the real crook here in your eyes. After all, we felonious tax evaders have been getting around this "loophole" for decades now.

(In the meantime, the too-big-to-fail.org banking industry brought the entire global economy to its knees, vaporizing trillions of dollars, and not one of those cocksuckers involved is behind bars...and we're arguing about this bullshit.)

Hope I didn't jerk your knee too much with that shit. God forbid you find you have to go online and order a knee brace...and find you don't have enough money to cover the tax.

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year ago | (#43258889)

Oh, no need to be sorry. You didn't upset me at all. You seemed upset so I explained in tiny words what this actually means. I'm sorry if that upset your...well whatever you do in your mother's basement...time :)

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43259093)

Go slit your fucking wrists communist, nigger, spic, faggot, ching-chong, loving fucktarded dumbo-crat .

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (1)

seyfarth (323827) | about a year ago | (#43258467)

I think you are basically correct. Amazon can claim that all sales were from Bermuda (or anywhere else) which doesn't have to follow US laws. I suppose we will off-shore everything except Americans.

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (2)

asshole felcher (2655639) | about a year ago | (#43258533)

Swing and a miss. Amazon has agreed to collect sales tax in an increasing number of states (like California ... did you read the article?). Amazon actually supports the national sales tax -- it's easier than trying to deal with 50 states targeting them (and only them, leaving competitors untaxed).

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (2)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43258555)

I don't know if you're in the US or not, but if you are, buying from outside the country won't help you, because you'll still have to deal with US Customs fees/taxes/levies/whatever.

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (1)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#43258695)

That would be true of physical goods, but what about sales of digital goods, (Music, movies, books, software etc) US customs can't charge excise duty on that, and neither can the Sates

Anyway I thought tax legislation had to pass the House, which isn't likely with the Replicans there.

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258611)

Probably not include in this resolution but customs could collect an import tax depending on final destination. The EU handles it that way.

Re:So now the US is forcing foreign online purchas (1)

nickmalthus (972450) | about a year ago | (#43258711)

Yeah, with all the free trade agreements in place purchasing outside the US will be even more appealing. Why buy a chinese made monitor from a US retailer when one can buy the same one for less including shipping and without taxes from a korean retailer off the internet.

Non-binding Proposal is not a "Mandate" (1)

retroworks (652802) | about a year ago | (#43258399)

Nor is it a tax of mass destruction.

Not to worry (4, Informative)

Freddybear (1805256) | about a year ago | (#43258437)

They've been trying to pass legislation like this for the last seven Congressional terms, this makes it eight.

http://www.netchoice.org/library/sales-tax-collection-myth-vs-reality/ [netchoice.org] ...legislation has been proposed in each of the past seven Congresses that would reverse decades of history and legal precedent preventing out–of-state sales tax collection, and another bill is being circulated for cosponsors by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY). It would impose on all states and all retailers the provisions of the now voluntary Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement (SSTA). SSTA proponents have touted this measure as a simplified, streamlined method for collecting sales tax. Unfortunately, the reality is far different – the SSTA promises to increase significantly the complexity and compliance burdens for interstate sellers.

Re:Not to worry (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43258573)

Yes, but it's an inevitability. The same way you may stave off significant privacy invasions for a couple years, you may be able to stave off internet taxation, too. In the long term, though, they will take what they want and nobody will really complain.

If only they were at least as tenacious about constraining spending and their budgets as they are about taking more money from citizens. I guess there's no need for them to be overly concerned with that, though, when there are so many idiots out there cheering shit like this on, because they're eager to hand over more of their pay checks every year.

Re:Not to worry (1)

Dan667 (564390) | about a year ago | (#43259063)

you mean like ending abortion or people owning guns?

Enforceable? (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | about a year ago | (#43258491)

How can states enforce this against sellers with no financial interest in the state? If the out of state seller doesn't pay, what recourse is there?

Re:Enforceable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258561)

If it becomes federal law, then the state will be able to sue the seller in federal court.

Re:Enforceable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258751)

If it becomes federal law, then the state will be able to sue the seller in federal court.

And that'll work really well for those vendors not in the USA. Good luck suing alibaba, which is the world's largest internet retailer.

Re:Enforceable? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year ago | (#43258983)

How can states enforce this against sellers with no financial interest in the state? If the out of state seller doesn't pay, what recourse is there?

They can take them to court. States sue companies all the time, quite often out-of-state companies. Your state probably has an attorney general who's every bit as busy as mine. The courts have a variety of means of imposing penalties. Usually they are required to pay what they owe, plus fines as well. If they then try to evade that, now there's all kind of nasty things you can do to them for evading court ordered payment, and at that point they have the local and/or federal government after them and can't just ignore the out-of-state government...

I'm a little ticked off (3, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | about a year ago | (#43258499)

but mostly because sales taxes are primarily regressive taxes (they impact poor and middle class much more than the rich because poor/mids spend a greater percentage of money surviving). At the same time I'm a lot more concerned about wealth inequity than I am about paying an extra 10% on crap I buy online.

Re:I'm a little ticked off (0)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year ago | (#43259071)

I'm torn. On the one hand, sales tax is regressive (partially offset by exempting food and clothing in my state, but it's still regressive). On the other hand, discouraging excessive consumption (or at least making those who do pay for it) isn't necessarily a bad thing, and to the degree excessive consumption is hurting our environment, the fault for that lies very squarely on the middle-class lifestyle (not that the rich don't contribute, they just don't do so in proportion to their incomes, not to mention there aren't that many of them). But on the third (gripping?) hand, that's better handled with specifically targeted taxes (e.g. a carbon tax) than with a general consumption tax (i.e. sales tax).

No taxation without representation? (5, Informative)

trout007 (975317) | about a year ago | (#43258545)

This will be struck down. You can't tax a person or business not in your jurisdiction. You could try to make your citizens pay the tax but you can't require an out of state business be a collection agency.

Re:No taxation without representation? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#43258629)

Given the way things are going in the courts I doubt this will be struck down.

Re:No taxation without representation? (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43258639)

The flaw in your statement is that it assumes adherence to the constitution, which we have dismissed at every opportunity over the last fifteen years. In a world where privacy, due-process, and protection of citizenship mean nothing, a little interstate commerce and taxation is trivial. Further, just as we have plenty of people in our population that say things like "we have too much free speech and the government should regulate the news" and "we should give up some of our privacy to be more secure against turr-ism", we have plenty of people who say "gosh,we gotsta pay more taxes, because it's our civic duty!" (entirely neglecting who it should also be our civic duty not to allow politicians to completely abuse the revenue they're empowered to spend).

Re:No taxation without representation? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#43258793)

This has been law of the land for a very long time. The Federal government can most certainly enforce the right of the states to tax their own citizens. What would be unconstitutional would be differing tax rates for in and out of state retailers. In all cases I know of, the sales and use taxes are the same, what this legislation would do would enforce the retailers to collect, remit and report the taxes that are already owed by the citizens of the state.

And, the Federal government doing the forcing, is certainly constitutional.

Re:No taxation without representation? (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#43259053)

More specifically, this new law would favor brick and mortar stores by allowing those stores to collect tax from OUT OF STATE people ... and at the WRONG RATE. Sure, we have been allowing stores to do just that all along. The meaning here is that the stores ARE doing this as a tax based on the STORE location, rather than the BUYER location. To be fair, the exact same thing needs to be applied to internet stores. Further, there is no tracking required of mortar stores. But some proposals for internet stores require providing buyer lists to the state along with the tax collections.

I'm not opposed to collection of these taxes. I'm opposed to the shear utter stupidity of the politicians who are trying to implement it so stupidly.

My proposal is this. All retailers may choose to participate. For each sale made with any kind of bank payment card, the retailer submits the charge to their merchant processor with a list of each item classification (for where tax rates vary by product class) code and how much the price is for each code. This is passed along to the consumer bank which MUST add the consumer's local tax rate (which they can have on file already for each consumer account after the first such transaction). The consumer's bank from which the credit or debit card is served has easy access to this information about the consumer's tax jurisdiction. Cash sales would still be done as they have been before.

The advantage is that both internet and mortar stores can use this same system and cut out the cost of processing these taxes. The banks have to pick it up, but their costs will be lower because they are working with a finite base of consumers that they already have information about (store a jurisdiction code for each account that indexes a table of product class rates for that jurisdiction). The net result is a total lower cost by the shift of processing ... and fairness.

Re:No taxation without representation? (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43258923)

This will be struck down.

There are two things to note here. First, this is a rare legitimate application of the Commerce Clause. Second, the Supreme Court has upheld unconstitutional law before (such as the recent Obamacare ruling).

Re:No taxation without representation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258929)

As noted it is a tax on the consumer, that is collected by the seller not a tax on the seller. That is why the tax is a line item after the subtotal of purchases. I don't see why given that the use tax is essentially uninforcable, (except for items that have to be registered with the state such as autos and boats, this makes it much cheaper to collect the needed taxes.

Re:No taxation without representation? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about a year ago | (#43259133)

In most states, the sales tax is not paid by the company. The state is taxing YOU. It just mandates that companies that want to sell to you have to collect the tax and submit it.

I'm actually kind of surprised the states haven't started issuing subpoena to the large online retailers, to get names and addresses of people that have ordered over a certain amount. and then go after them. (In pretty much every state with sales tax, you are required by law to include those purchase totals on your taxes, but nobody enforces it)

Here is the list of senators... (0)

Rick Richardson (87058) | about a year ago | (#43258569)

Here is the list of senators... http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=113&session=1&vote=00062

Write them and tell them what you think.

Re:Here is the list of senators... (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43258665)

[Ron] Wyden (D-OR), Nay

It's really a shame that guy has the "Democrat" tag, because he repeatedly seems to be on the rational side of things, instead of the "republican" or "democrat" side of things. The guy has been around for as long as I remember (almost my entire life, at least) and tends toward progressive technology view points and privacy for citizens at every turn. I generally lump all of the assholes together, but there really are a couple decent guys like Wyden who seem to stick to their guns and defend what is right for people. Too bad they're always trampled by the majority of twits.

Re:Here is the list of senators... (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | about a year ago | (#43259111)

I don't even understand why he voted nay though -- There's no sales tax in oregon to be charged!

Another cash grab (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year ago | (#43258677)

The states already get plenty of tax on out-of-state internet sales. Those packages don't appear by magic. They're moved (usually by ground) from origin to destination, paying taxes all along the way. Fuel and mileage taxes and registration for vehicles, income tax from the employees, property tax from the depots and warehouses in the origin and destination states, corporate taxes from the shipping companies, etc.

Re:Another cash grab (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year ago | (#43258807)

Umm, you do realize that businesses generally get to write off a lot of the, right? And these are businesses that don't have a presence in the state anyways so there's nothing to write off. So, it means precisely zip to us here in WA that a company has a warehouse in CA or TX, as those places don't remit any of it to our government to pay to run the state.

If you're going to comment, could you at least do some research?

Re:Another cash grab (1)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year ago | (#43258971)

You realize I'm talking about the shipper's warehouses, right? Track your next cross-country shipment. Unless you live right on the border next to a big city in another state, it's going to land at a warehouse in your state where people are employed to move that package. Those employees pay income tax. The shipper pays property tax. They pay taxes on the fuel they put in their vehicles. There's also probably a mileage tax on those vehicles.

?Comprende?

how does this compare with mail order? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258697)

As a non-USAian, can someone explain to me how this compares with mail order? Surely any issues concerning out-of-state sales taxes must have been resolved decades ago for mail-order companies? Does using a web site instead of a printed catalogue raise any new issues of law?

Little guys are gonna get screwed (3, Insightful)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | about a year ago | (#43258759)

I have a hosting customer (who is also a friend) who is a very small manufacturing business - they hand make jewelry and sell it on their web site.

They are a mom-and-pop operation and have no hope of being able to track 50 states worth of sales tax obligations and file 50 states worth of forms... never-mind that others have mentioned elsewhere that there are some 10,000 distinct sales tax jurisdictions in the US.

If they're actually required to track even just 50 states worth and file those forms, they're not going to be able to comply. Their business is close enough on margins that this could quite seriously push them over the edge and make them close up shop should it be too onerous.

If the fed wanted to jsut say "5% sales tax on all Internet sales apportioned to the states by share of gdp" that would be one thing, but keepint track of that many moving targets would be too much for mom and pop shops.... big retailers have accounting firms or departments to handle it - one more way the little guy is getting destroyed.

Re:Little guys are gonna get screwed (4, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#43258967)

It would seem to me that whatever solution Congress adopts there will be a variety of services made available for these sorts of businesses. Hopefully there will also be a threshold below say some million dollars per year where this sort of stuff isn't required. Of course given the stupidity of Congress one can't count on this being part of the legislation.

I don't have to file tax returns myself; I just buy a copy a tax software package once a year, put in my financial info and shazzam! the returns are uploaded. Shouldn't be a big deal to actually pay the tax.

The real onerous part of this process would be where states start wanting an audit. Now THAT would have serious potential to destroy a small business.

Nighmare (4, Insightful)

pubwvj (1045960) | about a year ago | (#43258785)

Dealing with all the localities is a paperwork and regulatory nightmare. They should not be making the states be able to do remote sales. If they want the money they should simply have a federal sales tax and then the government can divvy the money up to the states just like they do with so many other funding things. Instead they are creating more of a burden for small businesses. Once again, Big Corp has the advantage since they have the systems in place for this and can spread the overhead over many products. Big Gov loves Big Corp.

How will they actually Collect? (1)

X!0mbarg (470366) | about a year ago | (#43258837)

Since the whole thing seems to revolve around the following:

"passed a nonbinding proposal to allow states to collect sales tax on Internet sellers that have no presence within their borders..."

Just how do they plan on collecting this from anyone 'Outside their borders'?

If they actually figure this out, someone in some foreign country will start using this against Americans (or any other country) to start some form of Internet-based Sanctions.

This is only going to make it all that much more muddied for anyone making online purchases.

First, my Ebay purchases. Next, my e-mail, tweets and SMS from out-of-country sources.
Digital 'stamps' anyone?

And there is the crux of it. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year ago | (#43259139)

A new bill will be coming. It should be modified to have 4 changes:
1) REQUIRE a sales tax on all shipped items, including those that import into here.
2) offer the option of a flat 10% rate that is sent to the federal IRS who then doles it out.
3) offer the option of having shipping companies collect the sales tax and pay it to the feds. IOW, the sender would include the sales tax right in the payment. With this approach, the companies does not deal with ANY future tax issues/liabilities, unless they declared the item personal (i.e. person=>person so zero tax), or claim that the item is less than what was paid to them.
4) Consider mandating #3, possibly #2, for all foreign sending companies.

Everybody say it with me now.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258853)

Austerity. Au-ster-i-ty.

Angry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43258921)

As someone who lives in Illinois, Dick Durbin can go suck a dick. Jan Schakowsky is about a block from my office and Daniel Bliss' office is about three blocks from my house... I am gonna go talk to them about this.

I can just see it now (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#43258949)

In the state tax office in the capitol city, someone blurts out "WTF is bitcoin ?"

Impractical (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about a year ago | (#43259021)

This should be just loads of fun. I see this probably causing retailers to keep track of each sale by state of purchase, calculate the amount of sales tax, and send it to the appropriate state. Guess who's going to pay for all this?

Now all that's needed... (1)

WillyWanker (1502057) | about a year ago | (#43259089)

Is a way around that pesky Constitution that forbids interstate sales taxes.

What about the constitution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43259129)

States do not have the right to tax interstate commerce. Congress cannot give states that right without amending the constitution.

FAILZORHS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43259163)

GNAA AND JSUPPORT me if you'd like, notwithstanding, best. Individuals knows that ever
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