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Government The Almighty Buck The Internet United States Politics

Internet Sales Tax Gets a New Champion 276

Posted by timothy
from the happy-4th-of-july-weekend dept.
Archness1 writes with an excerpt from Declan McCullagh's piece at CNET about the recently renewed push for a sales tax on Internet purchases, led by Massachusetts Representative Bill Delahunt. "At the moment, Americans who shop over the Internet from out-of-state vendors usually aren't required to pay sales taxes. Californians buying books from Amazon.com or cameras from Manhattan's B&H Photo, for example, won't be required to cough up the sales taxes that they would if shopping at a local mall." That could all change, though.
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Internet Sales Tax Gets a New Champion

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  • by Machupo (59568) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:16AM (#32784884)

    Who always get screwed by our over-taxing, yet somehow insolvent, state government.

    • Everyone (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fyngyrz (762201)

      Instead of allowing them to constantly add new programs and new spending, how about electing some folks on the platform to reduce spending until you have a balanced budget (which means you won't need any new taxes), and then reduce spending, which means you'll need less taxes.

      Make some noise. At the state level, you might even get something done.

      One of the biggest problems our government has is an inability to revisit past decisions; bad law, bad spending, obsolete law, obsolete spending. All they ever

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Bill Dog (726542)

        It might be a start to stop electing so many dang lawyers.

      • Because a state knows whats best for it's citizens better than the feds. Tax sales and use it to pay for healthcare rather than having the feds tax people in Mass to pay for people in Ariz. Let each state spend as much or as little as they want on social programs. Let the feds focus on national security. If you don't like high taxes then move to Texas.

      • by elucido (870205) * on Saturday July 03, 2010 @09:05AM (#32785124)

        And stop using the feds for social programs? We have state governments for social programs. The state reps who actually are our neighbors have a better idea of what is best for our state because they actually live in our state rather than in Washington DC like the majority of Senators and establishment types.

        Healthcare is not something the feds are qualified to handle. The feds cannot even handle public education. That being said if the feds would like to fund it without any expectation of control that is something I can support as a libertarian, but then you have the problem of how much money to give to each state which causes problems in itself.

        Ideally the local governments should handle the social programs if we are to have any form of socialism at all. The federal and global government should focus on winning wars and building infrastructure.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Bill Dog (726542)

          How about instead of the feds funding the states, we do the reverse? No more federal taxes of any kind, the states collect all the needed taxes, in whatever forms and ways they each see fit, to meet their share of keeping federal operations afloat.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by paiute (550198)

        Instead of allowing them to constantly add new programs and new spending, how about electing some folks on the platform to reduce spending until you have a balanced budget (which means you won't need any new taxes), and then reduce spending, which means you'll need less taxes.

        Make some noise. At the state level, you might even get something done.

        One of the biggest problems our government has is an inability to revisit past decisions; bad law, bad spending, obsolete law, obsolete spending. All they ever do is add; that's a key reason why taxes go up, freedoms narrow, and law-books only get heavier.

        Why is this modded insightful? This is just a regurgitation of the tired old point of view that the government came from some mysterious place that the commentor is in no way responsible for.

        We don't allow "them" to do anything. We vote for "them", over and over. The commentor wants "them" to spend less money on wasteful (meaning not of use to the commentor) programs and stop making "bad" (meaning not in line with the commentor's opinions) decisions.

        Taxes go up because the voters want more spending. Simple

      • by Jurily (900488)

        Instead of allowing them to constantly add new programs and new spending, how about electing some folks on the platform to reduce spending until you have a balanced budget (which means you won't need any new taxes), and then reduce spending, which means you'll need less taxes.

        If the idea of electing smarter people would work, it would've worked for the last 50 years too. People don't give a shit until the economy collapses. The people you're asking to vote against debt are themselves neck deep in mortgages, and would vote to ban water [wikipedia.org] if the question is phrased right.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by raddan (519638) *

        All they ever do is add; that's a key reason why taxes go up, freedoms narrow, and law-books only get heavier.

        Yes, there are many unfunded mandates passed by Congress. This, in itself, it a serious problem. But it's not true that Congress only adds-- many laws repeal, modify, or simplify existing law. The Uniform Commercial Code [wikipedia.org], for instance, was a great simplification of the laws surrounding commercial transactions in the United States. The UCC is also "done right", in that the code itself is simply a list of recommended laws, that are then legislated at the state level. This allows states to retain control

  • Legalize pot... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pinkj (521155) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:17AM (#32784896)
    Legalize pot and tax that instead please.
  • by unixarcade (513538) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:19AM (#32784916) Homepage Journal

    Yeah another hurdle for business where the cost will be given to the consumer as it always is. That's what I find to be most funny. Give the business's any sort of tax and the tax goes upon the heads of the people. So in the end the consumer is taxed the most. Which means the majority is taxed the most. Would it not be better to let the people decide where their money should go. So that maybe people could have money to make a hobby a business or even to have a hobby.

    Taxation is the power to destroy which means they constantly want to destroy us the people, on capital hill.

    Stop killing us with theft and extortion.

    • by fyngyrz (762201) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:43AM (#32785028) Homepage Journal

      Give the business's any sort of tax and the tax goes upon the heads of the people. So in the end the consumer is taxed the most.

      This doesn't mean that the tax doesn't burden the business; eventually, the total spent for the product begins to edge into the "unreasonable" zone for the consumer, and they stop buying. You can't pass along a cost or a tax if the consumer won't pay it. And lets face it -- for most people, "must have" means food, medical needs, utilities, fuel/transport, basic clothing, and (for this group) Internet.

      Amazon and other Internet retailers have an edge (the tax and storefront things) but they also have a serious downside - your local folks can hand you the item. Amazon and crew have to ship it to you, generally speaking, and that's a counter-force working against pervasive "I want it now" mentality and the in-your-face shipping costs.

      Take away the tax benefits, and you'll see some Internet businesses fold, as their gains from advantages drop beneath their losses from disadvantages on the overall ledger. The smaller, niche businesses will go first, as they aren't doing enough volume to obtain deep discounts. I can think of quite a few I patronize that I would *really* hate to see go.

      The real problem here is the political concept of "we can always spend more for a 'good' idea." No. They can't. There is a limit, and when you're doing spending into the future based on credit, along with very high tax rates, as most states and the federal government are, you're well past that limit.

      Get people on board with a "spend LESS" platform, and elect them. Throw out the incumbents, they think *wrong*.

      • by elucido (870205) * on Saturday July 03, 2010 @09:00AM (#32785100)

        You have to pay for cops, for firefighters, for medics, in some cases for healthcare and schools.

        The problems start when one state has to pay for another state. Why would people in one state want to help people who aren't even their neighbors, who don't contribute to their state at all, who don't benefit their state in any direct way?

        Libertarian socialism is the answer. Tax locally. Govern locally. Fight wars federally. Build infrastructure federally. Maximize individual liberty.

        • Tax in a way such that the taxes are related to the use. A good example are vehicle and gas taxes. You use those to pay for the infrastructure to support vehicles, like roads, traffic lights, the MVD, etc. In that way, if you have more vehicles, or more usage of vehicles, you get more money.

          Likewise federal income tax to pay for federal programs. They are things done by the federal government, so tax needs to be collected for them no matter where you live. Thus it makes sense to simply collect the money fro

      • by mbourgon (186257)

        The niche businesses will do fine, I suspect, depending on the niche.

        For the music I listen to, there are about 5 guys in the U.S. who carry it via the web/phone/mail. As far as I know, there's one store within an hour that carries that _type_ of music, and they don't necessarily have exactly what I want. And Amazon either doesn't carry it or wants about twice what the "niche" guy does. (Just checked 2 CDs I'm buying. Small guy: $16. Amazon: $25 for one, $33 for another)

        Amazon's long tail only goes so

  • Buy local (Score:3, Funny)

    by DogDude (805747) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:20AM (#32784922) Homepage
    Good. Buying online results in externalities which most people are simply too selfish to care about. I'm all in favor of closing this loophole.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by pinkj (521155)
      But I can't find local bestiality porn! I've tried! It usually ends up being an obese man having intercourse with a stuffed elephant.
      • by NekSnappa (803141)
        Time to get out there and DIY. This Slashdot after all. If you've got an itch scratch it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Stele (9443)

        But I can't find local bestiality porn! I've tried! It usually ends up being an obese man having intercourse with a stuffed elephant.

        So you haven't tried chat roulette then?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by value_added (719364)

      Good. Buying online results in externalities which most people are simply too selfish to care about. I'm all in favor of closing this loophole.

      If you live in California and routinely buy on-line, there are (quite often) no externalities. Just the tax that you end up paying. Probably the same for a lot of New Yorkers.

      If the idea of wanting to avoid a sales tax (at least in the US) is "selfish", I'd suggest you try living in a state like California. To use a car analogy, we probably have the highest DMV an

    • by 5pp000 (873881) *

      Interesting that your post is modded "funny". I think the widespread death of local bookstores is very sad. I fully support some kind of interstate sales tax.

  • by bmo (77928) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:25AM (#32784950)

    What is the difference between mail/fax/phone order and purchases made through "teh intertubes"?

    Mail order has never had to collect sales tax except for in-state customers. Why are web based businesses any different? Why were states not clamoring for sales tax collection in the heyday of mail order? Politicians act as if web based businesses are getting special treatment.

    They aren't. They never did get special treatment.

    So what's going to happen now? Internet sales are going to be taxed but mail order won't be? Because I certainly don't hear about mail order sales being slapped with a tax in any of these discussions. It's all about skimming off of internet sales.

    Fine.

    I'll just slap a stamp on it or fire up the fax machine and send orders that way, like I did 15 years ago.

    It was nice knowin' ya, Internet commerce.

    --
    BMO

    • by Mortaegus (1688452) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:31AM (#32784988)

      The reason why this is stupid is because the tax would be going to the wrong place!

      If I purchase something online, then the tax, if I am required to pay it, should go to that small city in Pennsylvania where their warehouse is located, not my local municipal. That's the place I am buying from, anyhow. The internet is like a magical doorway that teleports me into their store, all the way across the country, where I browse around and make a purchase. Then the internet teleports me back and I wait for them to ship it.

      If the states wanted to argue that they needed to tax goods coming in from other states that would be one thing, but that isn't within their constitutional powers. Interstate commerce is governed by the federal level of government. Which makes the whole argument even more ridiculous.

      • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:34AM (#32784996) Homepage Journal

        If the states wanted to argue that they needed to tax goods coming in from other states that would be one thing, but that isn't within their constitutional powers. Interstate commerce is governed by the federal level of government.

        Then the federal government has the power to tax interstate business-to-consumer mail order and use that to fund currently unfunded mandates. I probably won't read the bill until it hits the House floor, but a federal interstate sales tax sounds like one way to implement what the article discusses.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cowboy76Spain (815442)

        If I purchase something online, then the tax, if I am required to pay it, should go to that small city in Pennsylvania where their warehouse is located, not my local municipal.

        Well, formally, the government of where you live has the power to decide that the transaction did occur when you received the goods so it is an event taxable there (*1). Practically it also has some meanings:

        • As it is easier for the internet seller than to the consumer to move, if you apply the "tax where the bussiness is" rule, soon
        • Another issue is if the state should be getting its income from sales tax; I would like more to drop the sales tax in favor of taxes on income and wealth. The taxes on sales would be only to cover externalities (v.g. if you buy carbon a tax based in how much will be needed to clean the mines and grow trees there when they close) or to disincentivate use (v.g. tobacco).
          You do realize your taxes on wealth and labor would also disincentivize the creation of wealth and providing additional labor, right?
      • by bender647 (705126)
        Sales tax is a usage tax. You are taxed on place of delivery.
    • I certainly don't hear about mail order sales being slapped with a tax in any of these discussions.

      I did. From the article:

      Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, introduced a bill on Thursday that would rewrite the ground rules for Internet and mail order sales by eliminating the option for many Americans to shop over the Internet without paying state sales taxes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cowboy76Spain (815442)

      All of that is easy to explain.

      Mail order has never had to collect sales tax except for in-state customers.

      First, volume of internet purchases has grown manyfold and is expected to get bigger, so the amount of money of taxes that goes through the loopholes is increasing, so now there is more incentive to control it. Also, there were mail sales well before IT was advanced enough to allow bussiness to fill taxes in all of the states easily; now it may be still cumbersome but is certainly doable. Mind that wi

    • by tomhath (637240)

      States have always complained about mail order purchases not paying sales tax. But in the past it was such a small percentage of the total it wasn't worth fighting for.

      Now states are desperate for additional revenue because they've spent themselves into huge holes, and internet sales are a relatively bigger piece of the pie. Here in Pennsylvania the governor maxed out every tax increase he legally could, and has tried several times to hold fire sales on state assets such as the turnpike and gas rights to co

    • States have been wanting sales taxes for mail and phone order too, it's the same thing as web order, something comes in from out of state.

      I don't mind it so much, but the states haven't bothered trying to harmonize their tax codes, what is and isn't taxable varies by state and that's the bitch of it all, if each product or product category has to have tailored check boxes, then that's going to be annoying. I'm not going to like having to deal with lots of tax-exempt forms, or writing a couple dozen more ch

      • by dgatwood (11270) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @09:33AM (#32785302) Journal

        I mind it a lot for several reasons:

        • The purpose of sales tax is to pay the cost of police, fire, and other local services that a business requires. A business in another state does not have those requirements, gains no benefits from the taxes it pays to the city where I live, and thus should not pay those taxes.
        • Sales tax is inherently regressive. The poor spend a high percentage of their income on taxable goods. This is still true even if you eliminate taxes on food. The rich spend very little as a percentage of their income, and thus are impacted far less by sales tax. This is exactly the opposite of what a proper tax scheme should be.
        • The states need to be weened off of sales taxes anyway. Sales taxes are a notoriously unreliable way of bringing in revenue. When times get tough, people stop buying things, and sales tax revenue dries up. States that depend heavily on sales tax revenue (Tennessee and California come immediately to mind) end up with massive budget shortfalls. The only way to fix that is to continue to deny them the sales tax and force them to find a more robust way to bring in revenue.

        Sales tax shouldn't be expanded. Sales tax should be reduced and possibly eliminated. It is pretty much the worst kind of tax you can create because it discourages spending that is necessary for a healthy economy, is hardest on the people who can least afford it, and has a tendency to drop off steeply when the states need the money the most. Pushing for expanding sales tax betrays a lack of even a basic understanding of economics. It's the sort of thing politicians like because it "closes loopholes" instead of "raising taxes", but in the long run, it will only harm the U.S. economy and drive sales tax revenue down.

    • What is the difference between mail/fax/phone order and purchases made through "teh intertubes"?

      No difference. The big difference is between local or remote purchases.

      A purchase made locally puts more demands on public infrastructure. You have a physical store where they display the items. That store needs police, firefighting, street maintenance, all supported by the local government to exist.

      In comparison, mail/fax/internet purchases bypass all that. The store window is virtual, goods go directly from the

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        goods go directly from the wholesaler's warehouse to the final consumer.

        No they don't. There's no such thing as a teleporter. Everything is shipped, either by truck, rail, air - even your pron passes over wires, and fibre-optics and radio ... and all that has infrastructure costs, right-of-ways, etc.

  • Seems fair (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TorKlingberg (599697) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:28AM (#32784962)

    As nice as it is with cheap stuff, I cannot come up with a good argument why internet sales should be except from tax while in-store sales still pay. Internet stores can compete just fine on actual efficiency improvements over physical stores.

  • In Australia we pay GST, a federal tax on all goods purchased which is then handed back to the states. This eliminates all of the inconsistencies amongst states and also gets rid of this so called loophole of companies not having a presence within the state they are selling to.

    All internet purchases from Australian companies get a 10% GST charge, all purchases from other companies like B&H pay customs and import duties which depend on the cost of the import. The downside to buying from B&H is tha
    • Our states generally have more powers reserved, and fit somewhere between a province and a nation in autonomy.
    • The U.S. government is built on what is called the "Federal System." The individual state governments have far more power and responsibility than they do in most countries, where the states are little more than administrative regions. As a result, they have different revenue needs, and have individually decided on different means of meeting those needs. Some states don't charge income tax at all; they choose to collect their revenue from consumers through property and/or income tax. The individual state

    • The name gives a clue: The United States. The US is a federal republic of independent states. Each state has a great degree of autonomy in many things. As such, each state has its own budget to deal with.

      Also, there's the fact that the federal government has a long history of using money as a way to brow beat states in to doing something. As an example, take the US's 21 year old drinking age. If you read the laws, you'll discover that this isn't federal. The federal government has no authority to make such

      • The United States used to be a collection of independent states up until the civil war, which pretty much established the supremacy of the federal government over that of the states. Right now the Feds control a large portion of many state budgets. Look up "unfunded mandates".

  • by bl8n8r (649187) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:31AM (#32784978)
    To collect that revenue, some states require you to report sales tax due on out-of-state purchases when you file your income tax every year. Most people try to play ignorant when it's pointed out to them however.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by panda (10044)

      Massachusetts, Representative Delahunt's home state, is one such state. The income tax forms' instructions also contain a chart that if you pay X dollars on this line based on your income, then the state won't say you owe more if they audit you. Of course, that amount excludes purchases of $1,000 or more. On those, you are to report the full amount owed. They typically call it a "Use Tax," and I mostly grew up in Kentucky which has pretty much the same laws, and it is typically charged at the same rate as a

  • by PieterBr (1013955) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @08:39AM (#32785014)
    Bookstore owners have to pay sales tax. Amazon doesn't have to. End result: said store owner goes bankrupt because Amazon has a competitive advantage because of tax differences. More unemployment and less tax-income for the state because of less sales-tax income AND because less people have a job. So actually this means a smaller amount of people have to cough up the taxes the state needs, while if you have regional businesses, all that is smeared out over more people. This is just plugging a loophole.
    • by Lehk228 (705449) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @09:03AM (#32785104) Journal
      bullshit, amazon has to ship as well, and whether the cost is integrated into the product with "free" shipping (no such thing) or if it's an added cost. they usually balance out so online orders pay as much in shipping as they save in taxes.
      • by panda (10044)

        Yeah, typically. I have found times when it was cheaper to buy something in a store and pay sales tax, than it was to order it online and pay shipping. I have found other times where it wasn't.

        What this is really about is the states getting their "fair" share of the money that's in circulation. They look at it this way: You live in jurisdiction X. You sat in front of your computer in X where you placed your order for a product from a company in jurisdiction Y. The product is taxable in X. It is being shippe

        • "It is being shipped to X where it will presumably be used in X. Therefore, you owe tax in X on that purchase/use."

          why? I mean that.... what did X do?

          infrastructure? like the roads? sure- the delivery company (*ups for example*) operations should cover those costs.

          why does X deserver a piece of the sale? did they supply infrastructure in y? the sellers zone?

          imagine the economic evolution if it stayed status quo- stodgy states with unenlightened taxation have less new wharehouses/shipping centers,

    • Bookstore owners have to pay sales tax. Amazon doesn't have to. End result: said store owner goes bankrupt because Amazon has a competitive advantage because of tax differences. More unemployment and less tax-income for the state because of less sales-tax income AND because less people have a job. So actually this means a smaller amount of people have to cough up the taxes the state needs, while if you have regional businesses, all that is smeared out over more people. This is just plugging a loophole.

      Said bookstore owner can offer instant availability and no shipping charge (which exceeds the tax anyway on any book less than $25.00); along with the ability to actually recommend books to the buyer that they may actually like vs Amazons "others bought.." or "you might like..." which offers bizarre combination based on viewings and purchases. Oh yea, I can pay cash and trade in the book when I am done. Competitive advantage is finding a niche you can where you can outdo a competitor. For most purchases

    • Ummm not really (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @10:35AM (#32785634)

      I don't know where you live, but here there are still plenty of local stores. Nearly everything other than groceries I can easily buy online and not pay tax, yet there are local stores selling the same things. This includes big ticket items like TVs, where the tax is a lot. Best Buy has a whole fucking wall of HDTVs for sale, and they've got multiple locations in town. People are free to order them from Amazon or Crutchfield and pay no tax, yet Best Buy not only makes sales, they apparently make enough to warrant a massive amount of their space being taken up with them.

      What it really comes down to is if states find that they are not getting enough revenue because sales tax is dropping, they should simply tax different areas. Property tax is a good choice, you can't move property, payroll tax also works, so does income tax. All depends on how you want to distribute it and what you need the money for (it generally makes sense to collect taxes for what they are used on, like taxing vehicles for money for roads).

      Please remember that sales tax isn't mandatory. There are states that don't have it. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon all have no state sales tax. You will notice none of them have crumbled and went away. They simply derive their tax revenue from other sources.

      Taxing inter-state purchases is just a nightmare. Especially if you really wish it to be "fair" as in "everyone gets the same cut if it was local". Ok, well you then need to have tables with state, county, and city taxes. It can be levied at all those levels. A state can have a 5% tax, the county 1.5% more and the city 1% on that giving a 7.5% effective tax. Talk about a nightmare to maintain data on all that. Also, how do you make sure it goes to the right place then? Does the company have to cut a check to each city, county, and state in the whole US each month?

      If you say "Just do the state tax," well what makes states special? Your argument is local businesses, so why shouldn't the city also be getting its cut?

      What it comes down to is we shouldn't tax interstate purchases. States just need to adjust their tax structure accordingly. Nobody says they have to get their money from sales tax. Here I pay sales tax to the state, county, and city (it is collected all as one, but there are three separate ones). I pay property tax mostly to the city but the state as well, I pay income tax to the state, I pay a vehicle tax to the state, and so on. It isn't as though sales tax is the be-all, end-all. They get funds from me in numerous ways. If they are losing out on sales tax, then adjust the others accordingly.

    • Bookstore owners have to pay sales tax. Amazon doesn't have to. End result: said store owner goes bankrupt because Amazon has a competitive advantage because of tax differences.

      May I offer you a buggy whip?

      Environments change. Either adapt with them or perish. If my local booksellers lobbied for Amazon to be taxed out of "fairness" and not because of any legitimate legal reason, I'd switch to doing 100% of my business with Amazon out of "fairness".

    • Said brick/mortar owner can also sell online, and get this advantage you speak of. People shop differently than they used to, so let's not make online retailers sound like the bad guy here. They have responded accurately to a changed consumer model.
    • If there is a reduction in employment that means Amazon is more efficient. Employing slacker bookstore clerks just for the sake of employing them is of no value.
  • he is open to all comers what with not having to face the voters again. Bought and paid for. Good riddance to this asshole.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Freddybear (1805256)
      Tar. Feathers. Congressperson. Some assembly required.
    • by panda (10044)

      Heh, that reminds me... During debates for the election to replace the late Senator Kennedy between Martha Coakely, Scott Brown, and the independent candidate named Kennedy (no relation). I watched very carefully and listened very carefully and came to the following conclusion:

      "Two prostiticians and a guy who's smart, but doesn't stand a chance."

      When it came time to vote, I voted for Kennedy (no relation). If you keep voting for prostiticians, that's what you'll get. Though, it's looking more and more like

  • Each state has the right to run itself as it deems necessary for the survival of it's citizens. If it wants to be run in a socialist manner or not is entirely up to the state and I say that as a libertarian. The point is to have minimal interference from federal entities who know nothing about the dynamics of the states they interfere with.

    Healthcare should be handled and paid for by individual states for the citizens in that state. If individuals live in states which don't have universal healthcare then th

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fyngyrz (762201)

      What we don't want is federally controlled healthcare.

      We? Speak for yourself. I do want federally controlled healthcare. I want private sector medical insurance to be illegal, and medical care to be universal just as education is universal, only more so. I am delighted to see we've taken a few baby steps in that direction. A society that doesn't put the health and education of its citizens first is, in my opinion, wrongheaded - and I'm trying to be polite about it.

      • by elucido (870205) * on Saturday July 03, 2010 @09:17AM (#32785200)


        What we don't want is federally controlled healthcare.

        We? Speak for yourself. I do want federally controlled healthcare. I want private sector medical insurance to be illegal, and medical care to be universal just as education is universal, only more so. I am delighted to see we've taken a few baby steps in that direction. A society that doesn't put the health and education of its citizens first is, in my opinion, wrongheaded - and I'm trying to be polite about it.

        Thats because you credulously have faith in the federal authorities. Do you not realize that they don't really care about citizens in your state because they don't spend time living among them? So you get exactly the level of representation that you deserve when you put all your faith into the establishment responsible for fighting wars. The talk about death panels might be conspiracy theory but it's the same government that tested viruses on it's own military. It's the same government that gets paranoid and sees everybody and everything as a potential enemy.

        Do you really want the Pentagon, DOD, and individuals like this to be in control of healthcare? Do you really believe this could be better than having your neighbor who you grew up with in control? Do you know any of these people in the Pentagon to have faith in them like this?

        You can put the health and education of your citizens first by focusing on reforming your local government to put this first. You probably have no influence on the federal government which may or may not be influenced by foreigners. So you could end up with federal agendas which promote ignorance and sickness because. Not everything coming from the federal government is free from corruption because the federal government operates on the international level and other nations can easily influence politicians in DC, perhaps even more easily than you can.

        • That's because you credulously have faith in the federal authorities.

          In this area, they've earned it -- it isn't that I'm credulous, it is that they are credible. What do I mean? Well, let me tell you:

          They've managed to keep my meat inspected, get my kids a basic education, prevent most infected/infested fruit from reaching my table, built a really outstanding interstate system in a country of huge extents, put our citizens on the moon and in orbit and gotten pictures of far away galaxies, give me cl

          • by elucido (870205) *

            They've managed to keep my meat inspected, get my kids a basic education, prevent most infected/infested fruit from reaching my table, built a really outstanding interstate system in a country of huge extents, put our citizens on the moon and in orbit and gotten pictures of far away galaxies, give me clean water to drink, and even paid for treatment of my sweetheart's breast cancer -- and I still have her for that specific reason. WRT the military, I don't like what they've got it doing at the moment (though WW1 and WW2... good job!), but I am forced to admit that it's damned good at being a military force, so yeah, they get considerable credit there as well.

            Nobody is protecting you. Nobody is protecting your offspring. It's you who must protect yourself and your offspring. If you look at how the world really operates, when the government has success you never know about it because it's classified. When the government fails you never know about it because it's classified. The government may have caught some Russian spies recently but thats a very unusual situation. What I'm saying is you might think your meat is inspected and maybe it is safe from viruses, but

      • Education is mostly handled on a state level, and a single system that works in Rhode Island, California, and South Carolina probably can't happen.
        • by elucido (870205) *

          Education is mostly handled on a state level, and a single system that works in Rhode Island, California, and South Carolina probably can't happen.

          Part of the reason we are training kids to be servants at McDonalds or to work in retail is precisely because the foreign entities that own the big corporations and in some cases own the politicians, already know who they want to hire to fill the jobs and it's not going to be "our" offspring that they hire for any of the better positions. Federal testing standards do not help our offspring get jobs. In fact these standards may in fact be helping China, Japan, Europe and other countries who have all kinds of

      • by ProteusQ (665382)

        But the politicians who promote universal (i.e., federally run) education and health-care send their kids to private schools and have their own separate, premium health-care system (which we pay for, BTW). Just from a practical POV, there's no way that any federal run [insert program name here] will be worth its while when those who run it are not on it.

        And the politicians know that they are being hypocritical and don't care (R's and D's). That's the first counterargument I think of when someone wants the

    • by panda (10044)

      If anything, this should be a federal tax. The very definition of Interstate Commerce is I live in Massachusetts and I purchase something from California, that is then shipped a couple of thousand miles through many states to get to me. What about that doesn't look like Interstate Commerce to you? What about that looks like something that an individual state should have the right to tax and regulate and not the Federal gov't?


  • One of the reasons that out of state merchants haven't always had to collect sales tax is to prevent a small shop from having to find the rates and file a return in every distant state where they do a single transaction.

    The problem, now, is that your local businesses (if you have any left) have to pay taxes in your state even if they only sell a few hundred dollars of merchandise a year while online merchants don't have to pay taxes even if they ship millions of dollars of product into that state.

    This is ea
  • Use tax (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SteelZ (1828180) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @09:26AM (#32785264)
    One thing the article doesn't mention and most people here don't seem to understand is many states that have a sales tax also levy a "use tax" on out of state purchases. In my state you're supposed to report your out of state purchases with your income tax form but almost nobody does it.
    • While the Constitution is vague about some things, interstate taxation it is not. The regulation of interstate commerce is one of the rights granted explicitly to congress, and not to anyone else. This was important because there was a real worry when it was written that states might try and stack taxes all over each other and screw up the forming of a union. Hence the "You don't pay sales tax out of state," thing.

      Ok well they may call it a "Use tax," but it is extremely clear what they are trying to do is

      • by Late Adopter (1492849) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @11:25AM (#32786018)

        You'll note there's never been a real push to enforce it and that is probalby because the state AGs are smart enough to know if it went to the federal courts, they'd likely get slapped down.

        I'm sorry but your facts are wrong. The Use Tax has seen a Supreme Court ruling, and it was in its favor: Henneford v. Silas Mason Co. (300 US 577, 1937), approves provided the tax "is not so measured or conditioned as to hamper the transactions of interstate commerce or discriminate against them" (read as: as long as Use Tax isn't larger than the Sales Tax).

    • In my state you're supposed to report your out of state purchases with your income tax form but almost nobody does it.

      Well, maybe if California (my state) didn't have a sales that that wasn't ten godamned percent in some cities we'd buy more locally. When I got my first HDTV I went to a local store, and the sales tax was $250. Fuck that scene. Never again.

      There's always some self righteous sycophants who try to shame us into reporting out of state purchases. We usually just punch them in the crotch until they pass out and leave them naked in a WalMart parking lot because, seriously, that's all those wankers deserve.

  • Get an agreement between feds and states to do one reasonable rate. Then apply it, while cutting spending. Pass a balanced budget amendment as well. We need to balance our budget. And then start paying off this massive debt. It was our deficit spending during good times ('83-'90; '03 -'07) that accounts for a major chunk of where we are today.
  • I'll be the devil's adovacate on this one - but to an extent. I think to consider a web sales tax still based on a single locality is a bit silly. Make either a universal web tax rate (flat rate for all purchases from online businesses based in the U.S.) or make one specific to if was purchased domestically or foreign (based on billing or shipping address?). The drawback I see though is the advantage this gives foreign (non-U.S. in my case) markets, but some already have the advantage as it is with cheaper
  • Oops, there's that little piece of paper interfering with again : P
    AFAIK, interstate sales taxes are unconstitutional.

  • I think the best way to resist taxation is to boycott the taxed activity. Let the idiots sit around scratching their heads, wondering how to stimulate the economy when they in fact discourage economic activity every chance they get. Given the current levels of taxation, it's time to greet each new tax initiative with a royal smackdown.

    The amount collected in Internet sales tax won't cover the unemployment for the workers who lose their jobs when sales volume goes down the toilet.

  • by jra (5600) on Saturday July 03, 2010 @12:43PM (#32786502)

    People who buy things over the net from out of state are *already* subject to sales tax.

    At least in Florida, where we call it "Use tax", and you're required to pay it yourself at the end of the year on everything you bought and didn't pay retail sales tax on.

    it's just that a) nobody really does it, and b) there are too many people for the state to crack down on it. So they're going to (probably unconstitutionally) attack it from the seller end.

    Sellers *hate* the idea: do you *know* how many sales taxing jurisdictions there are in the US? *Multiple* entire companies make a living keeping track of that.

  • The quote from the summary is incorrect - Americans who shop over the Internet from out-of-state are currently required to pay sales (or use) tax. The problem that the government has is that (1) the vendor often does not collect those taxes for internet (or mail order) sales, and (2) most people don't report them on their annual tax forms.

    It's interesting to note that the summary quoted a representative from the state of Massachusetts. Massachusetts has a line on their state tax form specifically pertaini

    • by DannyO152 (544940)

      I suppose I should mod up and not affirm. California charges use tax for resident's purchases that come from out of state. Enforcement is via honor system, so I'm sure a lot of people are overlooking.

      The City of Costa Mesa in the great County of Orange to the south have declared themselves a "rule of law" city. While undocumented immigrants are their nominative target, I expect any moment they will focus their laser beam attentions on use tax violators, especially as it involves a city revenue stream. And..

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