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Is This The End Of Tax-Free Online Shopping?

The sales tax and the Internet.  The Senate’s given a green light.  We’ll look at the implications.

An eBay sign decorates the front of the company's headquarters in San Jose, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

An eBay sign decorates the front of the company’s headquarters in San Jose, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Online shopping has absolutely boomed in its now decades with essentially no sales tax.

For most, it’s been buy it at the corner store, pay sales tax or buy it online tax-free. And American shoppers have turned in droves to point-and-click shopping.

Now, the U.S. Senate has moved to level the playing field, to authorize states to require online retailers to collect and pay up on sales tax.

Brick and mortar retailers say it’s only fair.  Cities and states say they need the money.  Online retailers don’t want the hassle or the cost.  And then, there’s you.

Up next On Point:  the sales tax and the Internet.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

John McKinnon, reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering tax and fiscal policy. (@johndmckinnon)

Ann Wood, founder and owner of the online luxury consignment business Willow-Wear on eBay.

Steve Delbianco, executive director or NetChoice, a trade association of eCommerce businesses, including eBay.

Jason Brewer, vice president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, whose members include Walmart and Kmart.

Rep. Peter Welch, Democratic representative to the U.S. House for Vermont’s at-large congressional district

Show Highlights

Video

John Donahoe, CEO of eBay, spoke with The Wall Street Journal about the ins and outs of the online sales tax:

Tweets From During The Show

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: Senate Passes Online Sales-Tax Legislation – “The debate stems from a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that held states didn’t have the power to require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax, unless the retailer had a physical presence, such as a warehouse or store, in that state. The ruling gave many online retailers a built-in price advantage and helped spur rapid growth in Internet commerce. As a result, state governments and brick-and-mortar retailers have pushed for federal legislation, enabling states to require out-of-state online retailers to collect sales tax for them on purchases by their residents, even if the merchants don’t have a physical presence. The sales-tax rate would be determined by the recipient’s address.”

USA Today: Internet Sales Tax Passes Senate — “The issue pits retail behemoths such as Walmart and Amazon against small online sellers such as those on eBay in a fight for price and industry dominance. Those in support of the bill, which include Walmart, Amazon and Target, argue they’re at a 5% to 10% price disadvantage by having to charge sales tax. States argue they’re missing out on much-needed revenue. Last year, states could have collected more than $11 billion in online sales tax revenue, according to a study by the University of Tennessee.”

U.S. News & World Report: There’s Nothing Fair About an Internet Sales Tax — “Just a few years ago, retail giant Amazon primarily stood on the sidelines of the debate over federal legislation – dubbed the Main Street Fairness Act – to require online retailers to collect sales taxes. But now Amazon is front and center supporting the current iteration of the bill wending its way through Congress. Amazon’s support aside, the tax revenues that states may be able to extract would be far dwarfed by the damage the legislation inflicts on growth, innovation and competition, and by further entrenching cronyism in our already troubled economy.”

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  • Unterthurn

    If you list yourself as a private seller will one be required to collect taxes? It makes sense that ebay shops should be taxing their items, but a private person who is using ebay similar to a flea market / garage  sale should be able to sell their items. Ebay is an environmentally friendly alternative. Otherwise spring cleaning items may end up in our land fills. A limit of x sales a year or month can be established to remain a tax free private sale. 
    And finally if we in the end are required to pay taxes then the government should be required to really go after the scammers and cheats on ebay, because ebay generally doesn’t. (I regularly use them and have been beated up enough by ebay supporting cheats to know that their platform is a free for all.)

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       IIRC, only those who sell more than a million dollars a year have to collect sales tax so the occasional ebay seller would not be affected.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    I support the tax. It is simple to me. If I pay; you pay.

  • Yar

    Online purchases have never been tax free, they have only expected the purchaser to pay taxes due.  Collections have been low. All the data collected on consumers makes it easy to start sending people delinquent tax bills from past purchases.  Once attempts to collect taxes due from customers then people will demand those taxes be collected at time of purchase.  For small vendors, instead of an exemption, they should simple pay the tax in the state of the vendor.

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      I don’t think that will work too well… if I live in a state with no sales tax, I’ll not shop in states with higher sales taxes… Better yet, I and many others will start our own e-stores and take advantage of that loophole to claim that advantage.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    It’s about time that virtual stores have to play on a leveler playing field with the brick and mortar stores that make the investment to establish and maintain a presence in communities. Given how tight some margins are, this has been extremely unfair for real stores.

    Perhaps well see a rebound in state revenues, investment I’m schools and infrastructure… and dare i say prosperity?

    …too a degree perhaps but with the attrition of the middle class by financial elite, it will take more than this to give America the hope of rebuilding its middle class.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    The state of Vermont requires people to pay the difference between the VT sales tax and the tax they paid if it was less than the VT tax. This is done on your income tax return and there is a ‘feature’ whereby you pay based on income so you do not have to total up all the individual purchases.

    It isn’t particularly difficult. Not surprisingly very few people actually pay since the odds of getting caught are about less than zero. Honest people that are only honest when someone is looking I guess.  

    So, for Vermont, this would lead to “automatic” compliance with the law, at least for on-line purchases. Won’t change the income from those that head to New Hampshire (no sales tax) for big shopping trips so they can save on the tax. Never mind that they pay as much or more for gas than they would pay in sales tax if they bought locally and they are STILL breaking the tax laws.

    I don’t know if other states have this same tax structure. I do know that Oregon has no sales tax AND one can deduct sales tax paid to other states from their income tax.

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    I hope we don’t see a race to the bottom like we have in the past where states out bid each other with sweetheart deals with large corporations to get them to locate their business locally by offering tax ‘credits’ and financing… Everyone looses except the shareholders.

    I don’t see how this could be done but I won’t underestimate the skills of financial engineers and corruption of politicians to figure out some loophole.

  • ToyYoda

    Please ask your guest, if they do pass this bill, how long before the bill takes effect?  I need to go on a massive shopping spree before that day.

  • nj_v2

    Great, more regressive sales taxes for the lowly masses while corporations and the rich get tax breaks and subsidies and set up offshore shell operations to avoid tax liability entirely. All enabled by their Congress critter whores.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    “the tax revenues that states may be able to extract would be far dwarfed by the damage the legislation inflicts on growth, innovation and competition”

    LOL.  Right, like if I had some great idea for a product, I would decide NOT to make it because I would have to keep track of sales to various states and collect the tax. Small price to pay if I was selling more than a million dollars of product a year. A $1M in sales at a 5% profit margin would be $50K. Big companies scoff at profit margins of 15%.

    • MrNutso

      That’s right.  They’re punishing you for being successful. You probably would turn down a huge raise, because you’d have to pay a higher marginal rate on the increase in income.  ;)

      • sickofthechit

         Sad to say there are a lot of people in this country who vote based on that tortured logic!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      It sounds like Joe Wurzelbacher has plans to be an online plumber.

      • Ray in VT

        Is he going to fix those broken pipes on my screensaver?

  • roberle

    could it not be simplified?  National internet sales tax of 4%.  Every seller collects it.  All revenue accrues to the seller’s state.  The state can elect to rebate it back (i.e. not collect it from the seller) or not.  So the seller can say he discounts 4% if seller’s state does not collect it.  Big deal.

    In my opinion, the fact that every buyer pays it will incentivise sellers to take it…the states will also be more likely to keep the dough rather than rebate it.  California collects less 7% tax, but much more 4% tax.  New Hampshire will do what New Hampshire will do.

    At least it levels the playing field and makes for simple reporting.

    • J__o__h__n

      I think incentivise has a Z not an S as the English are less likely to ruin their language with business jargon.  I don’t know if it is possible to misspell non-words.   

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Keep that up and we may revoke your “licence”, John :-).

  • TyroneJ

    Sales taxes are the single most regressive taxes that exist. The poorer you are, the worst hit you are by sales (or VAT) taxes. Plus, the driver of this tax increase of $23B is the likes of Walmart, often held up as the poster child of bad corporate practices, worker exploitation, etc.

    Ironic that people who are usually progressive are the ones lining up to help the likes of Walmart expand a highly regressive tax in order to increase Walmart’s bottom line.

  • Kyle

    This is not about whether sales taxes are regressive, it is about online merchants having the same rules as brick and mortar stores.  If you want to get rid of the sales tax, petition your state, and offer an alternative.  

    Also, I’m not sure how much poor individuals are using the internet to avoid sales tax, but I’m guessing wealthy individuals are more able to avoid taxes this way than poor, so not having an online sales tax would probably make the current sales taxes even more regressive

    • William

       What I think is wrong is to say “fairness” rather than just a simple tax increase for people that buy items out of state.
        Walmart and Amazon, Retailer business groups are pushing for this idea under “fairness” so what will they say when a different business group, competitors, push for “fairness in wages”, or “living wage”? I would think the barn door is now open and the future regulations for business community  will be based on “fairness” rather than sound economic policy.
       To me, it is better to have people shopping on line. It reduces road traffic and gas use etc and keeps costs of infrastructure maintenance down.

  • J__o__h__n

    On Point, please put the gibberish from Twitter after the posts to the website.  The popups are bad enough. 

  • J__o__h__n

    Sales tax should be repealed and replaced with a graduated income tax. 

  • DrewInGeorgia

    Please discuss the push to change the “Small Business” exemption to include businesses who have up to ten million dollars in annual revenue and up to fifty employees.

  • AC

    can you discuss how the revenue for this tax is distributed? for instance, brick and mortar stores are using more immediate and local infrastructure, whereas warehouse use more transportation related infrastructure….
    or will it all end up in a general fund?

    • MrNutso

      Generally, I think state sales taxes go to the state’s general fund.  In PA, there a several locations such as Philadelphia, where there is an additional local tax that goes to the city.  The local share is usually dedicated to something specific such as a sports arena.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Walmart at a “disadvantage”?  LOL

    This is a setup for a Federal sales tax.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      From your lips to Ted Cruz’ ears.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Thank you.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          I’d say you’ve gone past the Reality Event Horizon, but you’ve been there for awhile.

        • StilllHere

          Trust me, he doesn’t mean that in a nice way. 

    • jimino

      Isn’t a national sales/use tax exactly what so-called conservatives have proposed as an alternate to the existing progressive taxation of income that so harshly treats the “job creators”?

      So you’re for such a tax, correct?

      • WorriedfortheCountry

         I do believe taxing sales (VAT or other) is more economically efficient than an income tax.  However, I am in the camp that doesn’t ‘trust’ the politicians.  Therefore, I would only be in favor AFTER a complete repeal of the 16th amendment.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jmoorehouse061 Jan Moorehouse

    I live in a rural environment.  I’d rather pay shipping and sales tax than drive to the next town where the item is still unlikely to be available.  So–I’m NOT going to be driven away by the sales tax, and OF COURSE I’d prefer not to pay it.  However, my job is funded by state taxes, and someday my retirement will also be partially funded, so it’s pretty hypocritical of me to balk at paying taxes–

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      Hey, at least you’re honest about having a dilemma.

      Tangent: I’m a suburbanite, and I’m curious about how much online shopping you do (in rural) with an eye on shipping costs. My interest in this is that basically every time there’s a spike in oil and gas prices I keep waiting for Amazon to announce no more free shipping, and for other online vendors to follow suit.

      • BHA_in_Vermont

        All of VT is rural if you compare any city or town to big metro areas. I buy both local and on line and yes I look at shipping costs. Sometimes a product just isn’t available locally and sometimes shipping is free, even on heavy items that would bust the bank if they charged shipping. So when I find something online that I can’t get locally, the price is good and the shipping is free, I REALLY do not care that they collect sales tax to send to VT. I’d rather get what I need than try to make do with something else. And yes, I DO pay the Use Tax on my income tax return. I know I’m not the only person in VT that does – my wife and I file a joint return so that makes at least two ;)

        I frankly have no idea if any of the online places I have shopped collected tax to send to VT. There is probably a line item for those that do but I don’t pay attention to it.

        What I WILL NOT do is “research” at the local brick and mortar, then go online to buy it cheaper. Talk about immorality. If I need to see it, touch it, etc before I buy, the retailer shouldn’t have to pay to have the products in stock, pay rent on the store and pay the employees to run the store while the online store gets all the profit providing nothing in the way of service. And that goes for stores that also have a web site. The local store isn’t getting credited by the web site for the sale “made” by an employee holding a real product if you walk out and order from your home computer. If the local stores don’t make their sales targets, they get closed.

        I actually did the opposite when I needed a new drill recently. I went into the store AFTER reading reviews and deciding what I wanted on their website. Sadly, it turned out, that it was an “online only” item – wasted trip to the store and I still had to order it online – and pay shipping. I presume they collected sales tax since clearly the store has a physical presence in the state.

  • creaker

    I’d like to know how this affects smaller retailers – it’s one thing for someone like Amazon – it’s something else entirely for someone selling home made doodads on Etsy.

    • MrNutso

      If you stop at the home made doodad booth at a flea market or antique mall you have to (or are supposed to) pay sales tax and the seller has to send it to the state.

      • creaker

        But that’s the physical presence in the state thing. And you only have to deal with the state you’re in as opposed to dealing with all of them if you’re online.

        • MrNutso

          I think that if you are located in a single state, such as the guest, the tax should go to that state.  It’s no different than if you were traveling to that state and bought something.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Now we’re getting good and granular.

        Antique malls (hey, I’ve been to Lancaster PA) are in one place, which means easier enforcement. But flea markets? Not every vendor shows up every week.

  • James Pherris

    “No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.” US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

      It is Section 9, clause 5 and relates to exports OUT OF THE COUNTRY. Products moving between states are not “exports”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Rice/100000693874282 Joseph Rice

    I think this is long overdue – technology (akin to the EZpass systems) makes tax collection for on-line sellers totally doable. I am not sure I agree with the exemption for those selling under one million – will this mean all independent eBay and Amazon sellers get a free ride when the venue is grossing billions? And it’s not as if eBay and Amazon let sellers run wild – they are continually placing restrictions as to payment, shipping etc. Let them collect the sales tax as well for these sellers.

  • MrNutso

    I am in favor of the requiring on-line retailers collecting sales taxes.  In PA we have a use tax.  You have to report the value of purchases for which sales tax was not collected, and pay the tax as part of your income tax return.  That means I have to track all my purchases that I didn’t pay taxes on through the year, not to mention know what items are taxable.  You can also estimate the required sales tax based on income, but you would be paying way more than what your actual tax should be.  I have to do my tax return on-line, so there’s no way to avoid it.  You can’t leave the Use Tax line blank.

  • creaker

    So when you buy on Amazon (huge) and it’s actually being sold by “Joe Blow’s Basement Business” (tiny), and it’s just being sold “through” Amazon, would you pay sales taxes or not?

    Same for Ebay – or Etsy – while they facilitate the sale, they are not the ones selling you the product.

    • MrNutso

      You should.  I think the sold through Amazon is one reason this issue has gained momentum.  Amazon has the ability to handle the tax portion for their partner sellers.

      • creaker

        Makes you wonder if Amazon is ok with the sales tax because of the potential windfall for “handling” (which I doubt would be free) the tax portion for their partner sellers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000570151428 Jo Bleaux

    For years, friends have laughed at me, calling me the only person in the state of Louisiana to pay the state’s 8% use tax. I think there’s a complete lack of an enforcement mechanism.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000570151428 Jo Bleaux

      Interesting, it’s much higher than the state’s share of POS sales tax — the rest goes to local governments.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       So you are the one.  Step forward.  Bobby Jindal wants to thank you.

  • creaker

    If sales tax is that negative a selling point, I wonder if it would spur a boom in “microsellers”?

  • rcfloyd

    It’s fair to pay it BUT there needs to be a central “Internet” tax collection facility to collect and distribute the taxes to the states and/or a flat ”Internet” rate collected and there again collected and distributed to the state entities.  I can’t see it working or being fair to small business unless this happens.

  • barbbash

    About the concerns that small on-line businesses won’t be able to handle the complexities of this: why isn’t this a perfect business opportunity for someone to set up a  national clearing house that would handle these things for them (for a fee, of course)?

    • creaker

      Those are probably the folks pushing the hardest for this bill to pass.

  • Joye_in_Madison

    This is not a new tax, but the closing of the loophole that steals money from my stressed state government budget.  I am tried of “estimating” my online sales tax on my state income tax return.  I welcome this doing the right thing.

    • http://www.facebook.com/josh.graciano.3 Josh Graciano

      What would happen if you forgot about estimating online sales tax?   What kind of enforcement is there in your state?   

      • Joye_in_Madison

        Currently in my state, it is the honor system, but I also know how strapped my local government is.  Why would I want to starve agencies that provide the most direct set of services to me and my community?

  • wauch

    In response to the title of this segment I can only say……..I HOPE SO!!! This is a subsidy – and a betrayal of “free market” first principles – to large online firms at the expense of small mom and pop shops. #BuyLocal

  • atakemoto

    The fact that the tax suggested would only apply to companies with sales over one million dollars is yet another example of why our tax system is broken and in severe need of simplification in the name of fairness.

  • J__o__h__n

    She doesn’t need to sell in those states if she doesn’t want to comply with the law.

  • http://www.facebook.com/josh.graciano.3 Josh Graciano

    Fairness and tax revenue are stalking horses for big retailers and innumerable Chambers of Commerce desperate to stifle competition.  I live in sales tax free New Hampshire and gladly pay 6.25% in Massachusetts because I can buy different things than I can near home.  

    Don’t believe that $1,000,000 threshold for a minute.  Push the almost limitless number of internet retailers out of business and we will be stuck with the limited selection of bricks an mortar retailers selling the same things.  They make the consumers’ choices, not the other way around.

    Direct purchase of imports is the next to go.

  • creaker

    Audits would be interesting – are they going to come to your state or will you be required to go to them?

    And what can they do if you don’t pay? It’s not like they can shut you down if you’re out of state.

  • http://www.facebook.com/UnfoldingStoryPictures Zee Zarbock

    No one has mentioned that amazon.com may also be behind the country-wide sales tax measure with a hope of creating a new revenue stream for themselves by becoming the solution for small businesses who do not have the ability to deal with all the differing tax rules but are forced to comply.

    By offering tax collection and related services, amazon.com may potentially become the main portal for small businesses who cannot handle the tax issue themselves. Not only could amazon take a cut of their business, they could also charge fees by providing the service, and then reporting to the business. Maybe they will even offer reporting services directly for the businesses to state revenue departments in an Intuit sort of way? Who knows, maybe amazon and Intuit have already had conversations.

    There’s likely a bigger plan in play if amazon is behind this measure, in my opinion.

  • AaronNM

    While there are merits to the tax-collection argument, one has to wonder about the intense focus on these businesses while our largest corporations and banks pay nothing or even get refunds. What about all the capital gains loopholes for the uber-rich, or offshore tax havens? Once again it seems as though the little guy can’t get a break while the big guys get the rewards.

    • sickofthechit

       Smoke and Mirrors,  Smoke  an Mirrors!

  • DrewInGeorgia

    “A few of the things she brought up are just red herrings”

    Thank you.

  • BHA_in_Vermont

    Ann Wood sounds a lot like Chicken Little. She’s going to shut down her $50K to $100K a month business if she has to collect sales tax? LOL

  • StilllHere

    This bonanza of free cash for states will result in even less financial discipline.  Off comes the necessary pressure for pension and benefit reform, off comes the pressure for rationalization of bloated “work”forces. 

    The recession and bursting of the real estate bubble finally forced the public sector at the state and local level into the real world and there was promise of even greater efficiency while citizens noticed no compromise in service level. 

    We can only hope that consumers respond to higher prices by reducing total consumption in a way that offers states no net revenue benefit for these new taxes.

    • jpolock

      Way off!  The only reason the internet was EVER exempt from these taxes was to enable the fledgling internet business and commerce.  Now that they are clearly, not only competing with, but in many cases destroying businesses (i.e. book sales, music, for a couple examples) they need to collect and pay out of sheer fairness.

      I can not even begin to address your clearly ideological part as to tax need/usage…  

      • StilllHere

        And “fairness” is not ideological, please, grow up.

        • jpolock

          Classic, I need to “grow up” now huh?

          Your entire post is completely ideological as regards taxes and their use.

          Fairness, last I checked is not an ideology (i.e. conservatism…which evidently you are of) but a value.

          As in, when we watch a football game and I root for the Patriots and you root for the Cowboys, we both agree that both teams get four downs.  See, that is FAIR, NOT Political.

          But I imagine you’d rather Dallas get five downs…haha!

          • StilllHere

            If only it was so simple.  Is Belichick still stealing plays?  Or is that fair? Are all the Patriots juiced liked Cunningham? Or is that fair?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Rice/100000693874282 Joseph Rice

    Texas lady is frankly, full of it. She sells on eBay. She is pretty much forced to take Paypal, all info is available. Software not available/reliable? Uh, she is selling only because of the availability/reliability of software.
    Taxation without representation? Why? She is not paying tax, residents of states are (and I assume they do get representation). I am however, happy to see that she left law to sell designer handbags. It seems to be more her speed.

    • MrNutso

      She and other eBay sellers should demand that eBay handle the tax part.  Enter your zip code when you complete the transaction, and eBay automatically calculates the tax and sends it to the state.  There may be a small fee, but certainly less than the 45 work days she claims.

  • emcgov

    Why don’t the online retailers collect the tax that a brick-and-mortar business does, which is whatever local, state, federal tax applicable to the jurisdiction in which the item is sold.  If I choose to buy a product from an out-of-state business I’ll pay their tax, just as if I had walked in the door of their “store”.  Maybe the states will then have to take a closer look at the fairness of the taxes they charge.

  • MrNutso

    Based on what the guest is saying, I think that if you are located in one state, the tax should go to that state.  It’s no different than if you were traveling to that state and bought something in a store.

    • SuziVt

      I’m not certain, but I it seems like that may be the answer. It might inspire state governments to create incentives to encourage people to start online businesses within their state. Of course, that’s based on the information I just heard on this program and very little more. 

    • S_Mangion

       Your observation seems right on to me.
      Maybe it is too simple to be adopted!  The proposed law will certainly create a large bureaucracy. 
      And as SuziVt also notes, some tax jurisdictions might be encouraged to create a business friendly environment – it areas without a city tax or a county tax etc (I am thinking of C[r]ook County.)..

  • Kathy

    Ask Ms. Boohoo how much profit she’s making. If she can’t afford to hire a CPA at $1,000,000 in sales, she’s doing something seriously wrong.

  • ToyYoda

    She’s grossing near $1 million dollars and now she’s considering another gig, because she can’t use software found on eBay…. please OnPoint, let’s get counter voices to this bill who aren’t hyperbolic liars.

    • EMPIRELOAN

       SEE MY POST! I’d like to buy her business. I’ll figure out how to send the taxes due on a million dollars of revenue. Sounds like Ann has a pretty good problem!

    • creaker

      Gross is not net  – if someone is spending $950,000 to make a million, spending a bit extra could be a deal breaker.

  • nishikikouji

    I think this whole concept of people flocking to online sellers to “escape sales tax” is really misguided. I think this is a fair enough move if it’s made simple for the sellers, and that it will benefit the states (and I’m That Person who actually paid the use tax on my state return) but I can’t imagine it would actually do much for the small brick and mortar stores that are often brought up. I buy things online because of the convenience and the wide selection, and sales tax has never been a factor at all in any decision. I highly doubt that it’s going to make more than a few people change their shopping habits.

    • MrNutso

      I agree that the real benefit of on-line sales is finding things easier at your convenience.  I never chose buying on-line to avoid the tax if I knew where to get it faster locally.  I pay the Use Tax as well.  I can’t avoid it, so bring it on.

  • EMPIRELOAN

    Absolute nonsense!!! Hey, Ann Wood, I’m a local entrepreneur and I’d be happy to discuss buying your online business if you’re going to close up because you have to figure out how to collect and distribute sales taxes to the states that they’re owed to. Call me at 617-695-9408. 800k in revenue…lets talk. Michael Goldstein. Boston, Ma

  • nishikikouji

    I think this whole concept of people flocking to online sellers to “escape sales tax” is really misguided. I think this is a fair enough move if it’s made simple for the sellers, and that it will benefit the states (and I’m That Person who actually paid the use tax on my state return) but I can’t imagine it would actually do much for the small brick and mortar stores that are often brought up. I buy things online because of the convenience and the wide selection, and sales tax has never been a factor at all in any decision. I highly doubt that it’s going to make more than a few people change their shopping habits.

  • jpolock

    I agree with everyone on the “collect tax as local” point.  The difficulty with that however is the vast differences between states, incl. NH which has Zero sales tax…so would everyone set up shadow base there?  Or pile up in very low tax states as well? Maybe there should be a national internet tax (paid to the state in which each business resides) set by the national average?…

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    At least we get to find out how many politicians are in the pocket of Walmart once we tally the votes.

  • Kathy

    Since Ms. Boohoo is going to walk away from her million dollars in sales a year business when this passes, I’d like to volunteer to take over her business when she lets go of it.

  • Casey Reyner

    Why not a national online sales tax, that is somehow divided between the states? Or the online business should collect tax for the state they are in, for small businesses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.english.543 John English

    The taxation without representation argument is bogus.  Traditionally sales tax is passed along to the consumer therefore the taxes the consumer pays goes back into the coffers of the consumer’s home state.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Rice/100000693874282 Joseph Rice

    We just got back from a trip where we drove through several states and used toll roads and bridges where we were able to drive through with EZpass. I did not have to put multiple transponders on my car, and I assume EZpass allocates the collections appropriately.

    It is absolutely insulting when I get “suggestions” of things I might want to buy every time I visit an online venue, and then have to listen to people making this tax collection sound more complex than the space program, or that there would be rows of accountants filling in forms by hand.

    And I though states were in agreement that they would simplify their tax categories if it meant more online collections?

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       You missed the point.  The collection of the tax is not the only issue.  It is dealing with the 6000 individual tax jurisdictions– the audits and compliance.  The brick and mortar store only deals with one.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Rice/100000693874282 Joseph Rice

        No, I didn’t miss the point. Perhaps I just wasn’t clear enough. Whether provided by venue, state or private enterprise, there will be (or should be) a centralized system that will simplify collection.

        Complex structure? Believe me, if state had option of simplified sales tax structure or no participation, they will simplify.

        My main complaint is that the red herring arguments are from people relying on technology to sell and collect payment; then they pretend that tax collection will be done by the likes of Dickensian clerks with quills and ledgers, under sooty lamplight. 

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Great.  More bureaucracy.  That is always the answer.

          Remember, there 6000 tax jurisdictions and it will only take one pain in the a$$ audit to make life hell for a small business.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Rice/100000693874282 Joseph Rice

            I think one of the speakers mentioned that if there was an tech solution to the collection, sellers would not be audited.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             Yes, that is what the lobbyist said.  What could go wrong?

          • BHA_in_Vermont

             I believe the bill allows for state level sales tax rates, not local “adders”.

            I could be wrong about that of course.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             OK.  That must be a change.  Does that include native American reservations?

      • northeaster17

        Maybe if such a tax is created it could be a single tax across the board. Say 5%. Simplicty works

        • WorriedfortheCountry

           I’m not sure I understand your proposal.  Let’s say I live in NH and buy from an online retailer from NH.  You are suggesting that I now pay 5%?  Who get the money?

          If you want simplicity and a level playing field abolish ALL sales taxes.

          • SuziVt

            And who’s going to pave your roads, come to your aid if someone robbed your house, take care of the waste that you create that needs to be hauled away? Who will plow your roads, put the fire out, if your house catches on fire? There are so many more services that we use in our society, how do you think we’ll pay for those? I don’t believe in war, but I still pay my taxes, even though a vast amount goes to support all of the wars we have engaged in. Too bad no one asked me, I would have said no, no wars. I still pay my taxes, and I don’t cry about it. This is a great country, what would it be if the many libertarians and republicans that want to keep their money in their own pockets had their way? If you’re lucky enough to be rich, then you can pay fees for health care, firemen, police, as you need them? If you’re born into a poor family and just don’t happen to be bright enough to get a good paying job, then you don’t deserve any of those services? There are people that are not capable of acquiring a job that pays more than minimum wage, you know. What are all of those people suppose to do? I wouldn’t doubt that you don’t even believe the minimum wage should be raised or even exist. 

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             Incredible.

            Don’t light any matches in your field of straw men.

            There has a been a trend of higher taxes of late — especially in my state- MA.  Anything that creates competition that fosters a constraint on higher taxes is a good thing in my view.

          • SuziVt

            LOL!

  • BFFenway

    The present system is inequitable in that it taxes purchase at brick & mortar stores but not internet sales. I sympathize with the smaller internet companies who will be burdened with trying to comply with multiple sales tax rates. There are two solutions to this problem. The federal government could set a uniform tax on internet sales. The money could then be allocated to each set according to the amount of taxes paid by the people of that state. I realize that some states have a sales tax and others do not, but this system would greatly simplify thingsSince all internet companies use shippers (Fedex; UPS, etc) to deliver their items, the local deliverers can collect the tax. These companies are obviously already in-state and know their state’s tax rates.

  • Sawyerfarm2006

    What about the tax breaks big box stores get from states and municipalities. Is that an even playing field???

  • Joe Mahma

    People don’t shop online to avoid sales tax? Guess again. I’ve spent many, many thousands of dollars shopping online and I always give the sale to an online vendor that isn’t in my state rather than pay sales tax on the big dollar items.

    I just spent 400 bucks on a half dozen hard drives, got a slightly better product and paid about the same to an eBay seller in Hong Kong.

    • jpolock

      Bingo!  And I used to work in a high end Art Gallery…and I can tell you every customer would attempt to ship works to out of state to avoid major tax bills…and they would brag about it!  They would often even ask us to ship EMPTY BOXES to out of state places (second homes etc), so they could take the piece home locally…and basically lie that they “changed their mind” about where they were to locate the artwork.

      It’s crime. A crime especially perpetrated by the rich against the rest….

      • BHA_in_Vermont

         You could turn them in.

  • on_2nd_thought

    In response to the Dallas, TX online seller who talked about having to “pay” sales tax in 45 states: sellers don’t “pay” sales taxes, the customers pay sales taxes, the seller collects those taxes and remits them to the state. This is not just semantics. Please clarify this point on air.

    • AaronNM

      Remitting costs money to those retailers – it’s not a “free” process. More importantly, it costs time that would otherwise be spent filling orders, working on customer-service issues, dealing with vendors, or managing the supply chain. I’m not suggesting that it’s onerous, but it’s a mistake to assume that there won’t be an impact in terms of cost and time.

      • sickofthechit

         Ebay is the one who should be submitting the tax on behalf of the retailer.  What is so hard about that?  They have no problem collecting it for home state sales, they are already doing it in all the jurisdictions.  And they sure have no problem collecting “Selling Fees” on my shipping costs, leaving me with a net loss on shipping every package!  charles a. bowsher

  • meburns

    The statement that this legislation somehow eradicates Constitutional protections of interstate commerce is ridiculous.  First, the Constitution doesn’t enshrine any protection of INTERstate commerce; rather, it gives CONGRESS a right to regulate INTERstate commerce.  The implicit protection, therefore, is for INTRAstate commerce.  And online sales are a prime example of INTERstate commerce.

    I also find an earlier caller’s (an online retailer) argument that she shouldn’t have to pay sales tax for places where she doesn’t reside because that is “taxation without representation” pretty silly.  She seems to forget that it is the buyer, not the seller, who is actually paying the sales tax.  If she wants to sell to people all over the US, she has to deal with the laws of the places to which she sells and ships. 

  • Casey Culver

    Just bought a $12,000 camera for my small business – you think I’m going to buy that at brick and mortar with sales tax? Yeah right, that’s a plane ticket for my wife and I to the beach.

    • jpolock

      And you get to deduct that purchase as well as a “business expense”

      which you will then probably use to make a photo album of you guys on said beach

      Currently legal…but ethical to the public commons..I wonder

      • Casey Culver

        Haha. And I’ll right off the trip to the beach cause I’ll film stock footage of the water. No seriously though, I wish I had the will to support local, but when you’re looking at nearly $1000 in taxes, I just can’t keep myself from hitting the “Add to Cart” button…

        • jpolock

          I hear ya.  My wife & I have a micro biz too, and we take advantage of all current legal methods too.

          But it’s like John Kerry proposing higher taxes on the rich…which would hurt himself…he knows it is what is right.

          And collecting and paying sales tax from any biz is just fair and right…right?

          • Casey Culver

            Agreed

        • sickofthechit

          Sadly your illness is widespread.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

      ALL 45 states that have a sales tax also have a “Use Tax” for taxable items on which you paid less sales tax than you would if purchased in state. The fact that you ordered online to “save” the nearly $1K in tax says: YOU are a tax cheat.

      Presumably,
      if you are buying a $12K camera, you know a lot about what is out there
      and didn’t need any assistance from a local store to make your
      decision. 

      Right?

      If you can’t honestly say “true”, I suggest you look in the mirror and ask if you are the person you should be.

  • http://www.facebook.com/luke.held.9 Luke Held

    Collect ALL taxes that need collecting!  Can you imagine if we collected all the taxes from corporations that we should?  If businesses can’t survive paying taxes, then they have a failed business model and need to re-access the situation.  

    • StilllHere

      Do you have a shred of evidence to suggest that corporations don’t pay all the tax they are supposed to?

      • Ray in VT

        There are probably some corporations that are taking illegal actions to avoid taxes, such as evasion and fraud, just as happens with individuals, but the larger issue is probably the plethora of legal ways that have been written into the tax code in order to make corporate tax obligations disappear.  That, at least, has been fairly well documented.

        • StilllHere

          The same is true for individuals.  The tax code has been used to induce/pervert behavior and favor special interests of all sorts.

          • Ray in VT

            Agreed.

          • sickofthechit

            For the rich and powerful mostly

          • StilllHere

            Really, you mean the 47%? That’s a lot of rich folk!

  • Jake

    I don’t mind paying the tax and it doesn’t affect whether I buy online or not, but I do take issue with a state where I have no presence having the right to come after me across the country for a transaction that never involves them. If that resident drove to my state and bought something, they wouldn’t be expected to pay tax in their own state just because they live there. If anything, I would support paying tax to the state where the item was purchased, not this convoluted matrix of sending money to every county of every state.

    • BHA_in_Vermont

       ”If that resident drove to my state and bought something, they wouldn’t
      be expected to pay tax in their own state just because they live there.”

      Untrue. People in other states have posted how their “Use tax” works and it is the same as VT. If I pay less than 6% sales tax on an item that is taxable in VT, I have to pay the difference on my income tax form. It doesn’t matter if I bought it online or at a physical store in a state with lower (or no) sales tax.

      • Jake

        maybe not technically, but you know quite well that in reality, if I drive across the border to another state and buy a TV, I pay whatever sales tax applies where I bought it. They don’t ask for my ID and charge me a rate based on my home address. And when I take the TV home, I don’t call the state and asks where to send a check to pay the difference if my local tax would have been higher.

      • http://www.facebook.com/josh.graciano.3 Josh Graciano

        You expect us to believe you buy detergent in NH, or a knick knack at a yard sale and pay 6% on next year’s tax form?   If you bought a car in NH, you’d have to pay sales tax when you register it, otherwise how would the state know what you bought?   Unless you really are a good little do- bee.  Ever report someone to the state police for throwing gum out of a car window?

  • creaker

    I wonder if the big box stores/malls of the future could end up being run more like trade shows – pay to get in to get a chance to get hands on on products, ask questions, etc – and then you can place an order online either there or at home and the product shows up at your house in a day or two.

  • J__o__h__n

    The states might not need to collect sales tax if they weren’t paying the retired firefighter caller’s pension. 

    • jpolock

      Are you saying that firefighters don’t deserve dignified retirements?  Are you just jealous that you don’t get one?

      Maybe you should join a union…brother.

      • J__o__h__n

        I didn’t say he didn’t deserve it but he is whining about having to pay taxes.

    • adks12020

      Last time I checked most firefighters are municipal employees not state employees therefore municipalities are paying their pensions.

      • J__o__h__n

        States give money to cities and towns. 

  • William

    Dare we mention Global Warming? That UPS truck delivering online purchased items keeps 100 or so cars off the road.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       Shhhh.  These facts don’t help their cause to tax, tax and tax.

      • sickofthechit

         Which State’s roads do the delivery trucks roll on?

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          The same ones that go to the big box stores. And they all pay the gas tax for the roads.

          • sickofthechit

             Which State’s police force protects them?  It’s all about fairness.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

             Fairness?  The little guy doesn’t get tax credits to build out stores like the big guys.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randiblevin Randi Levin

    listening from montana, i’m interested in this conversation.  i live in a state without a sales tax, but has an income tax that averages 6% on all income earned.  when i shop online, and send something to a state that has a sales tax, i have to pay that tax as well.  so i pay tax on my income, and then up to 9% when i send to an address in illinois.  does this new law mean that i would then have to pay another sales tax in the state that the merchant is physically located? 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Rice/100000693874282 Joseph Rice

      Are you sure? I think (currently) taxes are only collected if the out of state business you buy from has a physical presence in your state. And since you are a no-sales tax state, they wouldn’t collect anything.

    • hennorama

      Randi – sales and use taxes are taxes on the buyer.  In your case, if the item purchased was shipped to Montana, you would owe no sales or use taxes to Montana.

      However, since the item was shipped to Illinois, which does impose sales and USE taxes, the seller collects Illinois sales tax.

      In this case, the tax is a USE tax, on where the item is USED (as evidenced by where it was shipped).  Sales and USE taxes are mutually exclusive, so either one or the other may apply to a transaction, but not both.

      Which means the answer to your question is NO.

      Learn more:

      http://www.salestaxinstitute.com/Sales_Tax_FAQs/the_difference_between_sales_tax_and_use_tax#faq-04

      http://revenue.mt.gov/forindividuals/taxes_licenses_fees_permits/salestax.mcpx

  • http://www.facebook.com/dotknott Michaela Knott

    It sounds like this sales tax is all about making it more fair local businesses.. but even if this passes, I’ll probably still be shopping online. I went to my local pet supply store last night to pick up a  water testing kit for my aquarium. The store had it priced at $39.99! Amazon sells it for less than $20. If local stores want to compete with the Amazon.com’s and ebay’s on the online world I don’t think making online shoppers pay sales tax is going to do it.

  • ericd725

    brick and mortar taxes pay for roads, police etc.  what do these taxes pay for?

  • Jake

    we should switch to a VAT system so those who can run a business better and have cheaper prices will have the advantage and we get rid of this ridiculously complicated system.

    • StilllHere

      As long as we get rid of income taxes at the same time, talk about complicated.

  • Somebodytookmyname

    I like to see and touch what I buy so shopping local is my preference. But I shop a lot on line because of selection. Very often I can’t find what I want from local suppliers. They don’t want to carry inventory of anything that doesn’t sell in high volume. So I go on-line to get what I need. Locals lose business because they don’t carry inventory. This includes the big sellers like Home Depot, not just little stores.

  • AaronNM

    @Jake – Big business and Wall Street will never sign on because they created the current tax code. Complexity favors them.

    • Jake

      I never said it could ever make it through to reality, it’s just my opinion that there’s a better way to handle sales tax than our current system.

  • SuziVt

    I buy at my local stores, if at all possible, even if I can get it much cheaper on the internet. I recently bought a dvd set of 3 seasons of Downton Abby for over $100. My girlfriend exclaimed she got hers for $11. for each season. My first reaction was, ouch! Then, I realized I wouldn’t have done it differently. I would miss those stores if they had to leave because of the bargains people were able to take advantage of online. I’m not wealthy, but I feel a responsibility to our local small businesses. Occasionally I can’t get what I need locally, then I do buy online. I am weary of hearing people cry about the federal government raising taxes. I agree with Peter Welch and am proud to have him representing Vermont. As far as Ann Wood goes, she has a very successful on-line business, and is shooting for $1,000,000 in sales per year. She has a few part time workers, but is reluctant to hire any more. She’s obviously most interested in making the largest profits possible, with the lowest overhead. We’re suppose to be sympathetic, because she may have to spend more money to effectively continue her rapidly growing business? One word…greed. No, let’s make it two…spoiled. It’s time to pay the tax.

    • Jake

      It’s a nice sentiment that we should all pay more to keep local businesses around and I’m all for local business, but why should anyone pay $100 for something that apparently can be bought for $11? That extra money is just going to fund inefficient business practices. Commerce and economics and business are evolving, businesses need to be able to compete and we shouldn’t reward someone who isn’t good at it just because they’re local. Profit is not always about greed, it’s also a way of showing health of a business; yes, some people take it too far, but if you don’t make profit, you don’t have a business. Instead of whining about greed and being spoiled, why don’t you take the $89 (plus tax) that you wasted and help your local business learn about being more efficient and figuring out how to sell something that is not available online for way cheaper.

      • SuziVt

        I did say that I do buy online if I can’t find it in my county. If I thought that the price at the local store was jacked up unfairly, I would buy that item elsewhere, possibly online, or forgo it altogether. It isn’t always insufficient business practices that cause high prices, sometimes it’s simply the cost of the materials and the cost of making the product. Likewise, I’ve read and heard, sometimes on Tom Ashbrook’s On Point, that the decreased cost of merchandise online, at sites such as Amazon, are able to be so low because of lower wages, non existent benefits, and poor working conditions. That may be an efficient business practice but that isn’t the kind of competition that I would like to support or encourage. Incidentally, my DVDs possibly cost more because I got them through the Public Television fundraiser. I don’t consider it a waste of $67. My friend purchased hers from Amazon. I absolutely believe in making profits, as long as they’re not unreasonably high and at the expense of the workers, among others. If you reread what I had written, at no time did I state that I didn’t believe in profits. Furthermore, at no point did I state that everyone should only shop locally and not online. I’m not in the habit of telling other people what to do. I was merely stating what I feel good about doing and why. I also criticized Ann Wood for claiming she may not be able to afford to stay in business if she’s forced to deal with more taxes. I’m not 100% convinced the internet tax is a good idea, but I do believe something has to be done to level the playing field. I am not sympathetic with Ms. Wood, do the numbers. I wasn’t whining, it’s called disagreeing and expressing an opinion.

  • sickofthechit

    As a part time ebay seller who already feels hammered and abused by ebays policies which they force down our throats I would like to say that the collection and remittance of the sales tax should be the responsibility of ebay.  They are already collecting seller fees on my shipping charges which means that the net that I collect for shipping doesn’t even cover my actual cost of postage.  I lose money every time I sell something. There needs to be a class action against ebay to get it to quit stealing from us and quit bullying half its core business.  charles a. bowsher

    • BHA_in_Vermont

      Never having sold anything on ebay:
      Does ebay take a percentage of the sale price as well as shipping?

      • sickofthechit

         Yes, and they even give preferential listing space to retailers who offer “free shipping”.  Basically it works out to 10%!

  • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

    I’ll begin to agree with online sales taxes when counties stop showering big box stores sales and property tax breaks to locate to their areas. 

    I wonder how many consumers know about the deals where newly located stores like Walmart gets to keep a portion of the sales tax collected.

    • hennorama

      Rick Evans – if you want a window into why some states have significant budget difficulties, you can check out the various state tax giveaways here:

      http://www.goodjobsfirst.org/accountable-usa

      You might also consider reading an article from last year, by David Cay Johnston, titled “Taxed by the boss”.

      Here’s the first sentence:

      “Across the United States more than 2,700 companies are collecting state income taxes from hundreds of thousands of workers – and are keeping the money with the states’ approval, says an eye-opening report published on Thursday.”

      See:http://blogs.reuters.com/david-cay-johnston/2012/04/12/taxed-by-the-boss/

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        You had me at “David Cay Johnston”.

        The near-exclusion of actual economists in media coverage of the economy is a mistake of great proportions. Johnston is one of the best out there.

  • jgeigerphoto

    It needs to be Federal law or none at all.  There cannot be a hodgepodge  agreement or compact between a few or some states – that would constitute an illegal confederacy, which don’t seem to work out too well.

  • DeRock111

    Dear Tom,
    First we love your shows in our household! Thanks for the great content.
    I tried to call in on May 8th about the Internet tax debate, but could not get through.
    When I heard my congressman Peter Welch call in, I had to write him. Below is the
    letter.
    If you speak on this subject, again, please try to include my point, so that I may hear
    what others think of it.
    Thanks and keep up the great work.
    Best regards,
    Dean
    Dear Mr. Welch,

    On May 8th you spoke on the radio show On Point about tax fairness with online retail.
    I vote for you, so would like an answer to my following question.

    What is fair about going to Home Depot in Williston VT, making a purchase, and paying the requisite tax then having the state turn around and refund that tax money directly back to Home Depot in the form of a “tax credit?”

    By the way, Home Depot strong arms this tax benefit in most of the sites they propose in communities all over the USA. How about outlawing this practice?
    How is that fair to the mom and pop brick and mortars, or the Vermonters who paid that tax.

    Not only does a giant like Home Depot start out with a huge advantage with the ability to price out mom and pops, but now they can take that 6% or 7% tax refund and drive the competition into the ground further.

    Poor people shop online. Use your time and energy standing up for the people that put you in office.

    Please give me a specific answer to my above question.

    Best regards,Dean

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505185832 Elizabeth Shannon Lawrence

    I honestly could not care less about paying sales tax online.  Personally, I shop online because I dont have to wait 20 minutes for a sales person to come over so I can get what I want.  I don’t have to listen to them pitch me the “better model” , when I check out I don’t have to be pitched for an “extended warranty” or to sign up for something.  I can just make a purchase and not feel my soul slowly seeping out of my body.

  • RB

    I’m so sorry that Ann’s successful business will actually cause her more work.  She does not evoke any empathy in me.  I wish lawyers were more interested in the public good rather than their personal problems.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1783683017 Dawn Maidment Knoeller

    Why not have an “internet sales tax” that is collected by one entity at one rate, say the average rate of all states sales tax rates.  Then, each quarter, disburse the money to the states based on the ratio of the population of the state to the population of all states.  Do this to all internet retailers rather than only those over 1 million.  This plan would eliminate the need to file 45 sales tax returns, only one return would be required and seems to me to be a more reasonable way to collect tax.

  • ds1st

    Why can’t each state take the responsibility of disseminating sales taxes to their local municipalities.  Likewise, why can’t the Fed step up and disseminate sales tax to the 46 states?

    Clearly the states need the sales tax.  The Fed in cooperation with the states should simplify the process.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       Keep the Feds out of it.  Federal bureaucracy is already too bloated.

  • dragica44

    Paying tax online isn’t a big deal to me.  It is not the reason I shop online.  I shop online because a. I live in a rural community and have to drive 1 hour to a mall etc.,  b. the time I save, gas, and the convenience,   c. I find things online that I can’t find locally.  For instance tiles for my bathroom floor, tiles for my kitchen wall etc. coffee that I like.  It is no different than using a catalog. 

  • RB

    It seems to me that this is just an enforcement issue.  If we are supposed to be paying a “use tax” on out of state purchases, which most do not–than this is a fairness and enforcement issue.  

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Will ‘onpoint’ continue to ignore the riveting testimony from the colleagues of those who died in Benghazi?  How can they?

    Does onpoint agree with Hillary Clinton: “What difference does it make?”

    The 4th whistle blower is now gagged by red tape.  So much for transparency.

    • sickofthechit

       The real purpose of the Benghazi hearings is to bury Hilary’s run for the presidency before it gets off the ground. 

      The reason to not reveal right away that it was a terrorist attack is because it gave them time to try to catch the perpetrators before they melted into the night.
      Same thing goes for the Marathon bombings and the Cleveland captives.  If they could have kept the media out of the loop a little while it sometimes helps the investigation.  We don’t need to know everyuthing about everything right away.  Time to learn a little trust and patience. charles a. bowsher

    • OnPointComments

      I don’t know how Tom Ashbrook and On Point can listen to the C-Span 3 testimony today and not think it’s worthy of a segment.
       
      I’m tired of hearing “What difference does it make” and that all we need to do is put procedures in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  I think blame needs to be placed for the decisions that were made, and there needs to be repercussions for the people who showed such poor judgment.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        “On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” “

        • OnPointComments

          So, let me see if I’ve got this straight, it is your opinion that because President Bush didn’t act on the August 6, 2001 report “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.,” all government officials now and forever get a free pass for any poor decisions they make.  Thank God you’re not in charge.

          • StilllHere

            He’s kind like that, and he loves “public servants.”

          • TomK_in_Boston

            Could you repost your posts where you went off on Bush for ignoring “Bin Laden determined to strike in US”? You probably demanded impeachment, right? I mean, you’d clearly be having a stroke if Hilary had ignored a “Terrorists determined to strike in Ben-zagy” so  you must have been incoherent with rage when Bush let 9/11 happen while he was reading “My pet goat”.

          • OnPointComments

            Perhaps you’ll illuminate us as to how anything that happened on 09/11/2001 can possibly be relevant to the attack on the Benghazi consulate.

          • Ray in VT

            Maybe that much worse decisions were made by the Bush administration, but, curiously, repercussions were not to be had.  Yet somehow now that there is a Democrat in the White House, heads must roll.

    • hennorama

      Today’s Benghazi testimony was emotional at times but added zero new information.

      Congress has better uses for their limited time.

      • Ray in VT

        Like investigating the nefarious purposes behind why the government has been stockpiling ammunition.  We really need to look into more of the great news put out by Alex Jones.

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      Poorly said, yes, but the meaing of “What difference does it make?” was clearly way Way WAY over your head.

  • Trond33

    I suspect that state tax authorities will discover that online taxes are not the panacea they hoped for.  Sure, revenues will increase some, but not noticeably.  

    Most consumers do not buy online for tax savings, except for maybe big ticket items such as electronics over $500.  For most of us, our online shopping is dictated by availability of items that otherwise cannot be found locally.  Or the necessity for a higher quality item than what can be purchased locally.  Or not wanting to run all over town to hunt something down when its a five minute job to order it online.  

    Others have mentioned this, but I also boycott Amazon.  After learning that Amazon’s personnel policies are in-line with Walmart, I decided savings a few dollars is not worth it.  

    One area that retailers both big and small could do better in is “pickup in store.”  For example, I will find what I need at REI online.  Fortunately, they will ship to the local REI store and e-mail me when I can pick it up.  That is a super advantage, as my local REI store is not all that well stocked.  I wish my grocery store did something similar.  They use the inventory management system to stock what sells, which makes sense, but if you are like me and do not eat processed foods, it is a problem.  

    Last point – I do think the cap should be $5 million in yearly revenue.  Thus supporting small online retailers.  Also, a two year tax holiday for new online retailers up to $50 million in yearly revenue, tied to a new website name registration to insure its not an existing company under a new name.  There are some startups that will quickly go over the $5 million cap, but who still need help getting established.

  • TomK_in_Boston

    1. We are in such a low tax environment after years of “starve the beast” that basic public services are crippled. All new taxes are good at this point.

    2. Small local shops really do contribute to a community, and they are getting killed by online, in  part because online is tax free. The stories about people going into a shop, seeing what they like, and taking out their phone to order online are true!

    Foe these reasons, we have to start taxing online sales.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       The Feds announced they are receiving RECORD revenues in 2013.  So much for your ‘low tax’ environment.

      • Ray in VT

        And how does that figure as a percentage of GDP?

        If it is still a smaller piece of the pie, such as has been true of late, then it could be described as low tax relative to other years, especially in light of the fact that 2012 was the highest percentage federal revenue year out of the past 4, yet still below 1951 levels.

        Even if it hits the 16.7% estimate number, then it will still be lower than every year since 1960 except for 2003-2004 and 2009-2012.  The average under Reagan was about 18%.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        As Ray says tax revs as % of GDP are historically low as are corporate contributions. And we didn’t used to have medicare, either.

    • William

       Well…if we want more money…go where the money is located. GE paid nothing…Google CEO brags about paying little if any taxes…..why punish the average guy and let the big guys walk away?

  • donniethebrasco

    Will you do Benghazi?  Or are you puppets of the Obama Administration?

  • bunchesoffluff

    republicans that pledged basically not to raise taxes and spending, to shrink gov, and to simplify the tax codes, if voted for this new tax, seem to be hypocrits.
    to make things fairer, remove all sales tax-it bascially makes products more expensive, the tax is passed onto the buyer-exspecially bad for the poor-makeing the poor need more welfare.
    internet with shipping and handeling and local store prices end up about the same now anyways

    • WorriedfortheCountry

       Anyone who voted for this is in the pocket of the Walmart lobby.

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        And the mom and poop store lobby too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dtoplon David Toplon

    I’m confused… why is the sales tax due not that of the location where the store is located rather than where the customer is located?  If I drive up to GA, I pay their tax, not FL tax.

  • Syed Ali

    Flat and simple internet tax would be better
    http://astersheen.blogspot.com/2013/05/flat-internet-tax.html

  • Gaius_Casius

    The simplest solution is to have a National Internet sales tax collected by the Feds that is charged on all out of state purchases. All proceeds would be remited to the states on a per capita basis. That way online retailers only have two bodies they need to deal with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1260876718 Chris Newton

    Why not make the PCI deal with the issue?

    AFAIK, online e-retailers use Visa, Mastercard, AMEX or PayPal for virtually all fiscal transactions. Since those companies already know where you live, it should be reasonably straightforward to augment the sales cycle software to include a ‘sales tax added at checkout’ option that would involve a round trip, sending the billing address over to said payment company and getting back the appropriate %age.

    Then a small number of very big companies have to deal with tracking which rate applies to which transactions; they are also already in the loop for returns etc. And, I believe (or at least suspect) most e-payment sites are already bundled widgets provided by those companies to the e-retailer, so they just need to release a new version in order to release the sales-tax mod

  • Erratayourways

    I buy many things online from all over the world. Won’t this put US based online businesses at a dis-advantage over their European counterparts? Pricing is already leveled through supply and demand across the web. If you force a sales tax on us based web sites, the businesses will not be able to raise prices against foreign competition who will have no compliance enforcement. Thus putting the us based web sites out of business.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Rice/100000693874282 Joseph Rice

    Agreed that compliance is abysmally low. So, how would you feel if the on-line retailers supplied information about recipient’s purchases to the states to let them have an easier time collecting? Thought so.

  • Nor Bolbe

    “It’s only fair”?! Says the major retail chain that buys its entire inventory from China/India/Slave Labor Countries. Once again, small businesses will be crushed by the Obama Admin and the Democrats.

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