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E-commerce Sites to Collect Sales Taxes Nationwide 584

aengblom writes "An agreement between 38 states and some of the nation's largest retailers is bringing taxes to the net, The Washington Post reports. In return for collecting taxes for all U.S. sales, the retailers would not be held liable for taxes they 'failed' to collect previously. Best quote: 'If we disclose who these companies are, it's like putting a target on their back.' The Post reports that Wal-Mart, Marshall Fields, Target, Toys R Us and Mervyn's have all 'independently' announced plans to collect taxes nation-wide." Internetnews.com has a story about the taxes and an article claiming it won't hurt online sales.
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E-commerce Sites to Collect Sales Taxes Nationwide

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  • IMHO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aliens ( 90441 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:41PM (#5242093) Homepage Journal
    I could either goto Toys R Us and get the product I want today, or go online, have to wait a couple extra days and pay shipping plus tax. Hrmmm, I guess they're right it's not going to hurt online sales at all.
    • Re:IMHO (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:47PM (#5242157)
      they are counting on the inherent laziness of Americans. People think that it is just easier to go online for most items.

      *I* for one, would NEVER goto walmart.com when I could drive the two minutes to go there.

      I also refuse to buy anything computer related from retailers (aside from display models that have been marked down to like $30 from 100 at Best Buy).

      I would MUCH prefer to shop BB online just so I don't have to demand that another little rat doesn't bother me while I am in the store.
      • I think that most of us here at /. see online purchasing as computer related items.

        But there is a huge industry online for consumer goods. A lot of people are just getting into the notion of purchasing more stuff online than not. Most people still prefer to go to the store right now, but the trend had been swinging. But this will difinitively kill that big time.
      • They may be counting on the laziness, but they also forget that people are always looking for bargains. Tax free was not the number one initiative for shopping online, but atleast for me, comparing prices with others was. I look and compare prices online and then go to the store and buy anyway. If this is what most do, then internet tax may not matter much at all.
      • Re:IMHO (Score:5, Informative)

        by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:00PM (#5242341)
        The only thing Walmart.com is really good for is printing digital photos. You can upload your photos there, and have them delivered to any Walmart in the country when they're done, and their prices are the cheapest online. The sales tax will suck, but with no shipping fees it'll still be better than overpriced places like ofoto.

        Just taking your photos to the local Walmart isn't an option since there's no ubiquitous read/writeable removable data storage format other than useless floppy disks.
      • Re:IMHO (Score:4, Funny)

        by Vainglorious Coward ( 267452 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:09PM (#5242475) Journal

        ...the inherent laziness of Americans

        ...*I* ...drive the two minutes to go there.

        Pot, meet kettle.

      • Re:IMHO (Score:3, Informative)

        by sfled ( 231432 )

        You mean Wal*Merde , don't you? The lines are too long, the help is surly[1], other shoppers are clueless and the pricing isn't all that competitive when you look at the quality of some of the crap on their shelves.

        [1]From being forced to work unpaid overtime [organicconsumers.org].

    • I agree, for readily available items. Books however I tend to order, not only does B&N give free shipping for two or more items, more esoteric books can be harder to track down. And Barnes and Noble is awful for any type of technical book.
  • Target? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by numbski ( 515011 ) <numbski@hkGINSBERGsilver.net minus poet> on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:42PM (#5242108) Homepage Journal
    Did someone say Target? And Wal-Mark? *scribbles*

    Wait...why would I shop ONLINE for something that's down the street again?

    Oh, right, no sales tax.

    No diff anymore.

    Bye bye website.
    • Re:Target? (Score:4, Informative)

      by mph ( 7675 ) <mph@freebsd.org> on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:48PM (#5242171)
      Wait...why would I shop ONLINE for something that's down the street again?
      To have it shipped to someone else as a gift. Or because the online stores have a larger inventory than the store down the street.

      I once had a nice book shipped to my mom as a gift. I was surprised that Wal-Mart.com carried it, and more surprised that their price was well below the other online retailers for that book.

      It arrived damaged, and my mom tried to return it to the local Wal-Mart, but they did not carry that book at the store. But Wal-Mart.com did a good job handling the return.

      In any case, here in California, we already pay sales tax when we order from most online vendors, because they have a business presence in California. Now the rest of you get to join in the fun.

      • online and not paying tax here in NorCal for a long time. I continue to seek out vendors that do not pay tax and will continue top do so. When I can't find one, I will start going back to the store and getting my instant satisfaction that way. Lazy am I, but more impatient am I than that.
        My online purchases have tapered off as shipping costs have grown to include the 'undefined' handling as well. As for shipping, I can do it at the post office for just as cheap and have it insured against damages at the same time.

        P.S. WalMart in next to SATAN, just to the left of Disney in the Underworld Academy graduation photo.
    • Oh, right, no sales tax.

      What amazes me is how often I'll see people club each other to get some bulky cheap thing on eBay, which common sense states the shipping cost should be the limiting factor on. e.g.

      $2.00 for Coffee mug + $5.00 shipping.

      (hint: always figure postage into your final bid amount, if it's a rare Webvan mug for a combined total $7.00, and you'd happily pay $10.00 go for it.)

      I frequent many of my LxS (x = bike, computer, etc.) because of their advantage of Buy-it-Now-and-Have-it-Now technology and I-Can-Take-it-Back-For-Exchange-or-Refund technology, which, as opportunity cost, beat whatever discount I'd get from Pay-Now-Get-it-Later-and-Get-Screwed-on-Returns technology.

    • Gas and depreciation on your car probably makes up for the tax difference in a lot of cases.
    • by Christopher Bibbs ( 14 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:00PM (#5242339) Homepage Journal
      We've been charged sales tax from online shops that have a physical presence here for years. Eddie Bauer, Victoria's Secret, REI, Apple Store, CompUSA, and others have all been collecting sales tax. You know what? It still works out for the consumer in some cases. Often these stores have discount shipping for large orders, flexible return policies, a larger stock of items, and easier to shop with (especially during the holidays).

      Besides, why should Target care if you buy from them online or down the street as long as you buy from them? All they need to worry about is you going to "just-like-target-but-no-tax.com".
  • It will hurt (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kmac06 ( 608921 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:42PM (#5242110)
    It will hurt online sales :(

    Only reason anyone buys stuff online is because it is marked down enough to cover shipping...shipping+tax means its more or as expensive as retail stores, so there is no reason to buy there...

    This seems like a really bad time for this with the economy in the crapper...
    • Re:It will hurt (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fetta ( 141344 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:50PM (#5242186)
      >>Only reason anyone buys stuff online is because it is marked down enough to cover shipping...

      Not true - I shop online for selection, convenience, and easy price comparison. Not to say that it won't hurt the online retailers from a price competitiveness standpoint, but this decision certainly doesn't mean "the end of online retailing."
      • I shop online for selection, convenience, and easy price comparison.

        I don't shop online but do all of the above for price comparison. Then I call the brick and mortar (if they don't have online inventory indicators) and drive there. It is the best of both worlds. Speed and convenience of the internet, don't have to wait for shipping and have it now of the brick and mortar store. Adding sales tax only makes it better for me to go to the store.

        As an aside, most of my online purchases are PC parts. CompUSA has a decent selection but don't specialize, and the local shops are extremely expensive. This will only hurt online retailers.

    • Re:It will hurt (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mononoke ( 88668 )
      Only reason anyone buys stuff online is because it is marked down enough to cover shipping...shipping+tax means its more or as expensive as retail stores, so there is no reason to buy there...
      No. Some of us don't live in Dallas/Austin/SanFrancisco/LA/NY. Buying online is the only way to get things that the generic stores (WalMart/Sears/Penneys) don't carry.

      So what if it hurts online sales. I don't think it will, that much. If anything, it'll help local sales more than it hurts the online retailers.

    • ...this won't kill all online merchants. Remember, sales tax isn't the only advantage for online merchants - frequently, they have a LOT less overhead (no store, only a warehouse; fewer employees, etc). So I don't think it's quite doomsday.

      That said, if they think it won't hurt at all, they're insane, I agree. Who hasn't made sure a vendor for something online wasn't in their home state? I live in CA, and it's hard shopping for computer equipment, but given our 8.25% sales tax, is frequently worth it.

      Also, doesn't it seem as if all the companies they mentioned are "clicks and mortar" stores? Since these companies have physical locations everywhere, won't this just about kill their online sites?

    • by VoiceOfDog ( 648178 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:01PM (#5242355)
      This just closes a loophole that some stores were getting away with, and some stores weren't. For example Gateway computer charges sales tax for online sales to California, because they have a retail presence there. For Toys R Us not to, just because they have a different corporate entity running the website, is not fair. This is why they are talking about an amnesty for back taxes- this is not a new sales tax on e-commerce. For Amazon (not their partners) and other catalog-only stores, you'll still be sales tax free. - VoiceOfDog
    • Re:It will hurt (Score:3, Insightful)

      by derch ( 184205 )
      Like others have said, sales tax isn't the only reason. Try living in even a semi-rural area. I have to drive 40 miles to get to a large book store. It's easier and cheaper for me to order most books through Amazon unless I know I'm headed over the mountain and can stop by Barnes & Noble. (I'm not living in the country, just a town of 50,000 with the nearest city 40 miles away.)

      Sure the local independent could order them, but it's still cheaper to buy certain books (O'Reilly) online. Nevermind that Amazon can get a book to me in two days whereas the indie book store might take two weeks.

      E-commerce won't die till mail-order dies. Mail order isn't going to die till everyone with a hobby has a local store carrying exactly what they want. I doubt there'll be a high quality kite shop w/in an hour of where I live anytime soon.
    • Re:It will hurt (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MrResistor ( 120588 )
      A lot of us shop online because the stuff we want simply isn't available in our immediate area. The nearest Target is 30 minutes away, and it's a small one with a crappy selection. The nearest WalMart is an hour away, as is Best Buy, Toys'R'Us, and just about every other big store. The big name stores in my town are JCPenney, KMart, Staples, and as of a month ago, Big5. Of those, Staples is the only one that carries anything I'm interested in, and their prices suck ass. The small local guys have big signs that say "we'll meet or beat Staples prices", but I'm afraid that doesn't mean much. I'm not paying $30 for an RTL8139 reference board when I can get one for $3 online, I don't care if D-Link stamped their name on it.

      There are a whole lot of people living in basically the same situation, and we aren't going to give up our online shopping any time soon. We are the online customers of stores like Target and Best Buy, and that's why they can say that online shopping isn't going to be hurt.

      It may be no problem for you to drop by WalMart and pick up what you want, but for me it's an All Day Outing which can only be attempted on Sunday, since that's the only day my wife and I both have off.

  • Sigh... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chicane-UK ( 455253 ) <chicane-uk.ntlworld@com> on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:42PM (#5242112) Homepage
    Well thankfully in the UK we haven't got this kind of thing yet.. though along with all the other taxes we pay, I shouldn't imagine it will be too long before it arrives on our shores.

    It wouldn't annoy me if I felt that these additional taxes, and tax rises noticably made quality of life better - but stuff like our health service and public transport continue to degrade into chaos and disorganisation.

    Slightly OT I know, but I felt like ranting about taxes.
    • " Well thankfully in the UK we haven't got this kind of thing yet."

      We already have. Everything you buy online in the UK has sales tax (VAT) on it.


    • Re:Sigh... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dr_LHA ( 30754 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:47PM (#5242163) Homepage
      Well thankfully in the UK we haven't got this kind of thing yet.. though along with all the other taxes we pay, I shouldn't imagine it will be too long before it arrives on our shores.

      What are you on about? In the UK everyone gets evenly charged 17.5% VAT instead of local state tax. It's not like you get a tax break if you order from a company in Sussex and live in Hampshire! :-)

      The whole thing is that you can avoid sales tax in the US if you order from another state. It's basically tax evasion (I believe you are supposed to pay it at some point but nobody does). This is really closing a loophole, annoying as it is.
    • It's barely conceivable that you're talking about importing goods into the UK, in which case you don't get charged tax by the seller (although that's nothing to do with the UK). However, you do get charged import duties by customs and excise (or a postal service on their behalf, in which case you get hit with an extra charge for the priviledge) on any single item over £18 GBP in value.

      That's one reason why places like cd-wow.com are so great; they post each DVD or CD singly, with the value clearly displayed, so it all just slides through. But order something over £18 in value and you will likely get import duties levied on it (but even with that, and even being posted from Hong Kong, it's still cheaper than buying from inside the UK!)

  • The only question is: Has it happened too soon?
  • Fair Enough (Score:5, Interesting)

    by endoboy ( 560088 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:45PM (#5242133)
    If (big if...) one accepts the proposition that sales taxes are legitimate, then there's no reason Amazon should be any less taxed than the bookstore down the street....

    Last I checked, the UPS guy was driving on the road that local taxes paid for...

    • The consumer is the one paying the taxes. We're not talking about taxes being legitimate or even if they should be collected. All that is happening is that the resposibility for submitting the tax payment to the state is shifting from the consumer (as is the current situation with most mail order) to the vendor.

      The myth of no taxation on mail-order is only around because most states never bothered to procescute people that skipped out on $12 worth of sales tax per year. Michigan for one has started to look into enforcing the law in hopes that they can scare most of the dodgers into paying up (at least partially).
    • Re:Fair Enough (Score:4, Interesting)

      by meowmonster ( 444185 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:08PM (#5242461)
      Yes but UPS is paying taxes on that road because for them to operate in your state they are being taxed. Their vehicle tax paid for the road along with your vehicle tax. You paid their vehicle tax as part of the shipping fees.

      But then again sales taxes are not legitimate, it's double taxation. You are taxed for earning and you are taxed for spending and you are taxed for saving (unless you put it in your mattress, but sooner or later the IRS is going to wonder and you'll be audited anyway). You are constantly being punished for being a productive member of society. If you decide not to be a productive member of society then the income of those that are productive is redistributed to you, therefore you are rewarded.

      Yes we need a tax but don't double tax. Make it an income tax or a sales tax but not both.

      That started to get a bit off topic, but by paying sales tax for goods and services out of your state you are being taxed for services you do not use. If I buy something at my local target I am driving on the roads, burning fuel and participating in commerce within my own state. That (although arguably) takes resources that the state collects taxes on.

      If I buy something out of state, that business does pay taxes on their income in their state so the "cost of commerce" is covered. The truck that picks the packages up and brings them to UPS facility paid taxes to be licensed so that is covered. If it is a ground shipment, most states have regulations taxing the trucks that go through them in the form of licensing or fuel costs (or both) so that is covered as well. I didn't make my money in that state so they are not entitled to my income (that of course leaving out the argument that govt is entitled to any of your money or we would be arguing our own state's taxation again). And the truck that brings it to my door is licensed in my state and the income they earn for bringing that package to me is taxed so my state is already getting their share. Seems to me that any additional taxation is unfounded, not to mention that I have NO say in the state's gov't that I bought the package from so me paying them any kind of tax (directly, as apposed to indirectly like the portion of my money that is income tax for the store) is taxation without representation which is unconstitutional. Isn't that what was behind the revolutionary war (among other things - not I don't need a history lesson), just on a MUCH smaller level?

      Abolishing the income tax on ALL levels and going to a national sales tax would of course solve these issues (but create others), then the feds can ration out money to the states based on their population. And when everyone is paying 50% sales tax they will get a better idea how badly goverment is bloated and maybe change their voting habbits...
    • Re:Fair Enough (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jht ( 5006 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:49PM (#5243017) Homepage Journal
      The traditional ruling on sales taxes has been this:

      If a business has a "locus" in a state (basically a substantial business presence), then they are obligated to collect sales taxes in that state.

      So your traditional brick and mortar company charges tax wherever they have a store or an office. Mail-order companies meet the same test. Here's a couple of examples.

      I live in Massachusetts. When I buy goods from Amazon, I am not charged sales taxes, because Amazon has no direct business presence in my state. However, if I lived in Washington (the state they're headquartered in), or one of the states where they had a warehouse, I would have to pay sales tax on my order.

      Related to that, Apple has 2 (soon to be 3) stores here in Massachusetts. So if I buy from Apple.com online, I pay sales tax. However, I had to pay sales tax even before they opened the brick-and-mortar stores here, because Apple has had a sales office in the Boston area for well over 20 years.

      What some of these companies were doing to try and get around the tax laws was create "separate companies" that were supposedly independent subsidiaries of the parent company and therefore didn't share all the locii with the brick-and-mortar stores. Ergo, no sales tax was being charged. That was a tax dodge, plain and simple, and in many cases (like Barnes & Noble) it's already been nuked by the courts.

      Now theoretically, in states with sales taxes you're supposed to declare your purchases from out-of-state, and pay "use taxes" equivalent to the amount of sales tax you avoided. But in the real world that doesn't happen, except at some of the businesses who can't legally afford to screw the taxman. Individuals never pay it, needless to say - perhaps that just might help explain why so many malls and stores exist just over the New Hampshire state line (NH has no sales tax).

      Basically, "Internet sales taxes" are a crock - but the same rules that apply to traditional mail order should apply to Internet-based sales.
  • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:46PM (#5242138) Journal
    So I can just buy from a Canadian e-retailer. Or a Mexican. Doesn't really affect me where they're based, and now they have a 7% price advantage over US-based companies. Way to go in a poor economy, US government. Now, instead of keeping the cash *in* the economy and picking it up on income taxes each time around, we throw it out to other countries. Kind of stupid. AFAIK, mail order companies are still tax-free, to show how arbitrary and lobbist-based this is.

    I was wondering how long it would be from the time Bush took office (and left the Clinton/Gore approach of "fund the Internet to build it up, but keep it hands off as much as possible") to the time big companies (brick-and-mortar types) started getting their way legally.
    • just when I was bemoaning this dumbass move, I see your post:

      So I can just buy from a Canadian e-retailer. Or a Mexican.

      I hadn't even thought about that. But I know when Canadians buy from the US they pay some rediculous ass ramming tax. We often get requests to label our software delivery as "demo". This way the value of the item is $1 and they pay little or no tarrif (or duty - I forget which is which).

      I wonder if we pay the same ass ramming tax on items comming into the US? Does it make a difference which country it comes from?

      • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:55PM (#5242272) Homepage
        >But I know when Canadians buy from the US they pay some rediculous ass ramming tax.

        It's called 'duty'. Its meant to discourage the very mentality posed by the parent poster; namely that shopping outside of your economy is bad for your economy.

        The US likely has import duties as well, but you would have to check with your customs agency in order to confirm whether duty applies to the specific products you are interested in importing.
    • by bnenning ( 58349 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:53PM (#5242244)
      I was wondering how long it would be from the time Bush took office (and left the Clinton/Gore approach of "fund the Internet to build it up, but keep it hands off as much as possible") to the time big companies (brick-and-mortar types) started getting their way legally.

      Good grief. I know people here love to blame Bush and Republicans for all the evils in the world, but at least try to make some amount of sense when you do. This is an agreement between retailers and *states*, neither the federal government nor Bush has anything to do with it. (And I'm relieved to know Clinton kept his hands off the Internet, otherwise we might have gotten bad laws like the CDA, DMCA, and crypto restrictions. Oh wait.)

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:46PM (#5242142) Homepage Journal
    Internet retailers who have a physical presence in California have charged me sales tax, last year. It's not like there's any secret, you get to see your total before submitting payment. A few sites are forthright, displaying the tax policy on their home page.

    It's just a leveling of the playing field. At some point I expect mandatory for all businesses, including those without a physical presence, which could be difficult for the Mom & Pop, HOWEVER(!) that doesn't prevent some sharpie from starting up a business to track it for them, if you get my drift.

    • Right, but I for one had always specifically looked for an online retailer who didn't have a physical presense in my state for that very reason. Now it sucks for everyone. Except for specialized items, I won't buy online anymore unless the convenience far outweighs the lack of price difference. I can drive and not pay shipping. Its cheaper than paying for shipping and the sales tax (or lack thereof) no longer will make up for that.
    • A lot of folks have been cheating on this one (physical presence). For example, Borders claims (or at least used to) that borders.com is a totally separate, independent company with a physical presence only in a couple of small states, even though every Borders store is full of promotions for borders.com.

  • by jamesoutlaw ( 87295 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:46PM (#5242146) Homepage
    Shopping online has, for me, always been more about convenience than price. I do shop around online to find good prices for things, but when shipping costs are factored in, you often do not save that much. However, the extra cost is worth not having to go to a mall or other shopping center. The addition of tax to online purchases won't change my online shopping habits one bit.
  • The Republicans and some Democrats in Congress want to stimulate the economy by giving people a tax break. The theory is that they'll go spend the money they're given, thus stimulating the economy.

    Now they want to tax Internet sales. Hmmm.

    I understand local jurisdictions are under a lot of pressure, what with states and counties running huge deficits and wondering how they will pay for local police and fire departments and social services. But this just seems like a bad move to make at a time like this. With the Internet's sales rising nearly exponentially each year, it would make sense to keep shopping tax-free and hope that Internet spending can help to prop up the economy.

    Still, federal proposals to cut taxes sure won't help states and municipalities deal with their budget deficits. Still seems wrong-headed to me, though.
    • The Republicans and some Democrats in Congress want to stimulate the economy by giving people a tax break.

      No, they don't. If tax breaks were about stimulating the economy, they would be directed at the low end of the income distribution--people likely to spend the extra money.

      Instead, the administration gives huge tax breaks to the wealthy and introduces new sales taxes that hurt spending but make some special interests happy.

      Internet's sales rising nearly exponentially each year

      Of course, Internet sales are rising "exponentially"--your bank account with 0.5% interest also is "rising exponentially". Most things that grow grow exponentially, some just do it faster than others.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Ok, I'll call your troll.

        The previous tax cut, and the currently proposed tax cut, are both sweeping cuts that benefit ALL classes of income-earners.

        As it stands now, the wealthiest 50% of the population bears 96% of the tax burden so it's natural that an across-the-board tax cut would free more dollars up for the top 50% than the bottom 50% in absolute terms( by a ratio of roughly 24:1 ), but the amounts retained on a percentage basis are actually higher for the lower 50% than the upper 50%. Your troll is ridiculous and unfounded.

        Here are the numbers to back up my claims:

        http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/pub/irs-soi/00in01rt. xl s

        ( Excel file, although it opens fine in OpenOffice )

      • It's hard to direct tax breaks at the low end of the economy, since hardly anybody at the low end of the income distribution actually pays income tax to begin with (incomes less than $30K pay 5.8% of all income tax - see here [house.gov] for more details).

        The upper 10% of the income bracket pays 50% of all income taxes (same source). Maybe those who actually pay taxes might appreciate it.
      • by bnenning ( 58349 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:19PM (#5242615)
        the low end of the income distribution--people likely to spend the extra money

        As opposed to "rich" taxpayers who will put it under their mattresses?

        Instead, the administration gives huge tax breaks to the wealthy

        The income tax reductions actually make the system more progressive. The evil rich will get a larger reduction in absolute dollars only because they pay so much more in the first place. But you knew that.

        and introduces new sales taxes

        This is an agreement made with state governments. The Bush administration has nothing to do with it. But you probably knew that too.

    • The Republicans and some Democrats in Congress want to stimulate the economy by giving people a tax break. The theory is that they'll go spend the money they're given, thus stimulating the economy.
      Now they want to tax Internet sales.

      No, they don't - this is a deal with the States (maybe you've heard of them) which the liberal critics of Bush seem to forget.
  • hmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gnaythan1 ( 214245 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:47PM (#5242153)
    Looks like a business oportunity for someone in a state that has low or no taxes for forwarding goods to real addresses.

    "No really officer, All ten million orders last year went to the same address in Oregon"
  • by Valiss ( 463641 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:48PM (#5242166) Homepage
    Great, now there is little motivation to shop online at all on the listed stores. How stupid can they get? Of course I'll just drive down the block instead of waiting days for the same product. I hope amazon.com doesn't go this route. I love buying hard-to-find books with no sales tax and lord knows Wal-Mart doesn't sell any books worth buying...
    • I love buying hard-to-find books with no sales tax and lord knows Wal-Mart doesn't sell any books worth buying...

      So if you want to get those hard-to-find books, you'll *continue* to get them from amazon, right? What's the problem?

    • Re:No motivation (Score:3, Interesting)

      by derch ( 184205 )
      The companies involved have a physical presence in most states. Their dotcom is subsidiary with only a few physical locations. The dotcom thus gets out of collecting sales tax, but only technically.

      The agreement should only affect stores with a physical presence in your state. Amazon.com, being little more than a set of warehouses, shouldn't have to collect sales tax unless one of their warehouses is in your state. This agreement doesn't affect them because in the case of having a warehouse in your state, they would've always been collecting sales tax.
  • What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by smcavoy ( 114157 )
    The US enconomy is hurting, online retailers are strugling to stay alive. Comsumer spending is down.
    And they want to start taxing online purchases NOW?
    What the hell business school did these idiots go to?

    It's only another reason *not* to buy online, notice it's the big brick and motor guys that are all for the taxes.. If people don't buy stuff from the small company online, guess where their probably going to get it from....
  • by lindsayt ( 210755 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:49PM (#5242181)
    Just wanted to mention that Marshall-Fields, Target and Mervyn's are all the same company - Target Corp (Formerly the Dayton-Hudson Corp until Mark Dayton became a senator).

    Also, Target Corp and Toys R Us are working together with Amazon.com for online sales, so really it's only two groups - Target-ToysRUs-Amazon and Wal-Mart.

    I welcome sales tax for these merchants as it will probably encourage shopping in the local economy, which is better for small business and lesser municipalities (though perhaps bad for my home city, since Target Corp is based here).
  • Who has a list of the non-tax states???? This is who I will buy from....See no problem....
  • Remind me again, why do we have the concept of states' rights, and different laws in the various states now? Nowadays, when people and goods are so fluid, and move around so much, isn't it a huge waste of resources to have 50+ different government agencies deciding and arguing over whether to collect taxes on internet sales? Whether you are for or against these sales taxes, isn't it crazy that it would vary from state to state?
  • Amazon.com (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Digitalia ( 127982 )
    Notice that Target, Marshall Fields, and Toys R Us are all affiliated with Amazon.com's online presence. Does this mean that Amazon proper will also begin charging tax? If so, I'll resume purchasing my books at the local dealer.
  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:50PM (#5242197)
    I don't get this--what does the Internet have to do with whether out-of-state orders get charged sales tax? Traditionally, when I order something mail-order over the phone or by mailing in an order, I didn't have to pay sales tax if I ordered from out of state. Has that changed as well?

    It seems to me that the Internet is being used by brick-and-mortar merchants as a smokescreen to push an agenda they have been trying to push for decades.

    As for "not hurting", what are these people thinking? Not having to pay sales tax just barely makes up for the shipping costs and extra hassles of on-line ordering. If I can't even save the sales tax anymore, then I might as well go to my local electronics store. Which is, of course, why state law makers have been lobbied so hard to push this through.

    • Brick-and-mortar merchants' "agenda" == trying to sell you stuff. Internet == a new way to sell you stuff. And in case you haven't noticed, many of those brick-and-mortar merchants are now selling online as well.

      If merchants like Wal-Mart haven't been charging sales tax on online orders (I don't know, I haven't ordered anything online from them), they've clearly been violating the law to do so. State laws almost uniformly say that if the company has nexus (a physical presence, like an office, store or distribution center), it's responsible for charging you sales tax.

      On the other hand, you are responsible, in most states, for paying "use tax" (basically a different name for sales tax) on items you buy from out-of-state retailers who did not charge you any sales tax. Betcha didn't know that one. This agreement essentially fixes the problem that almost no one pays that tax, and it catches companies who had been trying to skirt the nexus rules.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pjrc ( 134994 )
      Traditionally, when I order something mail-order over the phone or by mailing in an order, I didn't have to pay sales tax if I ordered from out of state. Has that changed as well?

      From the article, what has changed is several large retailers, with physical presence in nearly all states, who were previously charging sales tax in none of them, or only in a small handful where their on-line division had a physical presence, will now charge you sales tax.

      The article specifically names Walmart, with stores in all 50 states, as having walmart.com registered in only 9 states. No longer will they be able to charge sales tax in only those few states where the on-line division has a presence, because they stores at in every state.

      Of course, you'll still only pay tax if they have a physical store or presence in your state and you live in one of the 45 states with sales tax. At least for now. But the states also want to change that and force all US merchants to collect sales tax, regardless of wether they have a physical presence in the destination state.

  • Buying something off the internet should cost more than going to a local retailer. After all, the online stores are more convenient and have a better selection. These are things that you're supposed to pay more for!

    Frankly, I think this is a good idea.

  • by marian ( 127443 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:51PM (#5242220)

    Am I the only one who looks for online sites that will not charge tax to buy from? Somehow that seems doubtful. The reasons for buying online were (1) Not having to set foot in a store or shopping mall and (2) No tax offset the cost of shipping. Much as I hate malls I'm not at all sure it's worth ordering online when I have to pay the 8%+ (welcome to California) additional to the state. Dammit.

  • No sales tax here.. For anybody outside of NH they should get a maildrop for stuff they buy online :)

  • How the govenment (state or federal) could ever impose a tax on internet sales?

    Now, B&M stores with an online presence aside, wouldn't charging me sales tax on my order from Amazon (or Buy.com or etc.) in effect be taxing interstate commerce? ...I think I seem to remember a line or two about something like that in one of those old pieces of paper we lead this crazy country by...
  • by jpsst34 ( 582349 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:52PM (#5242228) Journal
    I don't believe that it will hurt all online sales, but to some extent it will. Here's why: most of the stuff I buy online I do so because either I can't buy it at a local brick and mortar or because it's far cheaper online. If it is available both online and locally, I compare the final price - which is cheaper, buying locally and paying tax or buying online and paying shipping? Then I consider the time to wait for shipping. From that, I decide which is the best option, if in fact there is an option.

    For places like Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys 'r Us, it will probably hurt online commerce because people will just go to the local store. But the store is still getting their money, so they aren't actually hurt. For places that aren't so physically pervasive, such as purveyors of computer components, online sales won't be hurt if they eventually have to collect taxes. If I'm looking to buy an Athlon XP2000+ and I check the local shop and find it to be, say $200 plus 7% tax for a retail box and find it on pricewatch [pricewatch.com] for $115 plus tax and shipping, I'll certainly buy it from the online shop, after checking out their credibility on the BBB [bbb.org] of course.
  • Use the phone. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Garg ( 35772 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:53PM (#5242247) Homepage
    Before online shopping, I used to mail-order everything 'cause if you bought out-of-state, there was no sales tax.

    So now just look up what you want online, and call their 800 number to order instead of using the Web.

    I suppose they'll plug that too though...


  • Hmm .. stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RembrandtX ( 240864 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:53PM (#5242251) Homepage Journal
    First off .. we all need to keep in mind that Internet sites that do e-commerce are REQUIRED to collect sales tax if they are selling to a state which they have a Brick & Morter store located.

    So Sites like Walmart, Toys R Us, and my own Black & Decker have to pay taxes; Where sites like Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty or Old Glory Games - do not.

    That being said:

    If I *DRIVE* to virginia (or deleware etc) and buy a car .. I don't have to pay sales tax on it. [although I do get taxed when I register it in my own state.]

    If I order something over the phone, I don't have to pay tax in some states. Same if I order a magazine.

    While internet stores are no replacement for a good Brick and Morter store .. they do sometimes fill a nitch. Example .. 3 weeks ago I was looking for 2 things : An Ospry Book for Eastern Front German Uniforms in WWII, and German winter gear figurines (25m) of the same timeframe.

    I went to FIVE hobby shops local to me that carry minatures .. and none of them had what I wanted. [I called 6 more .. getting smarter after the 5th to get the same result.] *EVERY* single shop was willing to 'special order' said product for me.

    Now, I tried to buy them in a REAL store first .. because I wanted to support my local stores.
    Granted - I was looking for some rather specalty items, but when a store CARRIES said items .. at least ONE out of 11 should have SOME representative in inventory.

    All my real stores failed me .. so I ordered from an online store.

    Internet shopping is only good if you know exactly what you want - its very hard to browse for something on the net .. because its forced marketing - you see only what a seller wants you to see about their product.

    Three days later, product in hand .. I had what I was trying to find.

    I guess my point is, Internet stores generally do business across state lines. [hence no income tax .. due to fluxing tax rates between states.]
    Trying to regulate income tax for a NON store fronted web-store is stupid. If they had a local store, most folks prefer to go to them first. The E-Commerce-replaces-real-stores that everyone was afraid of in retail sales .. never happened .. and honestly .. probally never will.
  • by spankenstein ( 35130 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:54PM (#5242269) Homepage
    For years mail order has been tax free across state lines. I understood that it was partly because of which tax rate to use and which state gets it, the buyer's or the seller's.
    • It would go to the state where the buyer resides. Sales tax is, essentially, a 'use tax'. That's why when you buy a car accross state lines, you don't pay sales tax at the time of purchase. You pay the tax when you register the car at the location where it will be used.
  • by fetta ( 141344 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @01:56PM (#5242282)
    The only justification for not charging sales taxes for online retail purchases was that the sytem was just too complicated - retailers couldn't be expected to be familiar with the rules of every taxing authority nationwide.

    If a rational system for determining which sales tax applies can be put into place, there is no reason that online sites should be exempt.

    BTW, I agree that the moritorium was justified - I just don't think you can reasonably expect it to last forever.
  • After reading the article, I didn't think this was too big a deal since it was basically requiring big retailers who set up their website as a separate 'organization' to charge sales taxes for states they were in. But now, I'm thinking that the agreement said they were going to charge for every state regardless of physical presence. That would begin the slipperly slope of getting online customers 'used' to paying sales tax.

    I'm concerned that the big boys are going to work it out for themselves, and the little online shops (several of whom I develop websites for) will get screwed by having to pay for 'tax tables' or 'approved software' that will run us out of business.

    Since the states will be getting sales taxes now, will they be willing to refund the taxes that UPS and FedEx pay (profit, gas, employee taxes, etc.)?
  • I doubt the lack of sales tax is the only reason you buy from the Web.

    Among other things, Web stores are open 24 hours a day and they have things in stock that you can't get at your local store.

    Web stores operate out of warehouse space, which is far cheaper than retail space, especially if you live in a city. The employees don't have to deal with the public, so their time is spent more effectively.

    Retail stores have many downsides. They have to deal with remainders (items that don't sell) more often, and have to choose carefully the tradeoff among items to stock. Most can't operate 24/7. The employees can be a real problem: if one person doesn't show up for work, long lines can develop at retail counters.

    Shipping is expensive, but it's the only downside to web stores. They have many other economic advantages on their side, so they can continue to be a bit cheaper, and often more convenient. I buy things from Amazon that I could get from my local Borders, but that bookstore is a good 20 minutes away. Total round trip is 40 minutes. I'd buy it from Amazon even if it were a bit more expensive. Add the fact that it's generally cheaper, even with Amazon's economic model hiding the shipping cost in the price, and it's no contest: I spend far more at Amazon than retail bookstores.

    Other stores offer things I can't get locally without much travel, from cake decorating supplies to obscure DVDs to Ebay's miscellania, and I live in a major metropolitan area.

    Does it suck that I'm now paying 5% more for my stuff than I used to? Sure. Will it cut into some sales? A bit. But I doubt it's the Imminent Death of the Web.
  • Instead of trying to hassle with whether we apply taxes for the state the purchaser is in or taxes for the state the purchasee is in, or taxes the warehouse the items are sent from is in, or any of that, why don't we just have a flat tax of say 5%. It's not perfect and it may hurt a state that has a high tax rate and help one with a low one, but it cuts all the crap out.
  • First off, when you order over a phone, 90 percent of the time there's no tax unless you live in the state. Second off, in some cases, actually, alot of cases, the item actually costs more....especially if you buy it at the one's listed. It's the bargain bob websites that have it cheaper. CF cards recently have taken a dip and if you search, you can generally find a 1 GB card available for 200. If you buy it at Compusa's site, you pay 600. There's a little difference there and that would be worth it. Lately the online stores have taken to charging the same price as they do in the brick and mortar and rape you on the shipping on top of that! (20 bucks to overnight 1 CF card??). Online stores will have to start finding different items. Items that are hard to find. One example could be Penguin Mints. I can find both pepperment and cinnamon in my local Meijer, but I can't get any of the other flavors. Also, if I buy a case on peppermints.com, I can generally reduce my per tin cost anywhere from half the cost, to a dollar off per tin (2.99 here locally). Adding shipping makes them cost the same as the store so for cinnamon and peppermint, it's not worth it. For the chocolate mint and decaffed peppermint, it would be worth it. At least they are trying to make it automatic. In Ohio, they want you to report not just your online purchases but even the ones you make out of state too (like on vacation) on your income tax form so they can tax ya. Sometimes you's pay twice! And this is also something that they claim they can punish you for, but how? How can they keep track? They can't, so almost noone but the clueless do this. Oh well, I don't buy online anyway.
  • The agreement is expected to give states a new source of revenue to battle historic budget deficits.

    Ok, there's this other solution that doesn't involve taking more money away from middle class people. IT'S CALLED CUTTING SPENDING!!

    I live in Washington. We've been having extreme budget troubles for the past 2 years, as well as a poor economy (we've been harder hit by the recession)

    During the late 90's, our state had a HUGE surplus. Gigantic, billions of dollars. You'd assume that the state would save it up for lean times, right? No, of course not! Government spending doesn't work like that! No, they spent it on worthless programs. The money was gone amazingly fast. Now, due to their short sightedness, I have to give them more money.
    • There was probably never a real surplus anyway. Governments use whatever numbers they feel like using - whenever they claim there's a surplus, it's usually because they want the voters to roll over and approve some ridiculous spending measure. "Oh yeah, this is chump change - look how much money we have!!!"

      There was never a surplus in the 90's. It was a "projected" surplus based on "estimates" from the Congressional Budget Orifice, of the "approximate" "future growth" of income taxes derived from dot-commers realizing "capital gains" on selling ther stock options.

      Hello!? That surplus never materialized because the market crashed and nobody ended up making all the bazillions of dollars in income tax on the profits. So many people had overvalued stock that there were no more idiots left to buy it. Then, BOOM, it hit and here we are..

      See, we as individuals can't pull this neat trick whenever our budgets get tight (and believe me, they're tight).. The gov't can either simply print more money, which will have an effect on inflation a couple of years down the line (but that's okay, blame it on whoever is in office when the inflation hits), or two, just take more of ours! GEE! I wish I could just walk up to some random stranger on the street and take money out of his wallet!

      No society has ever taxed itself into prosperity. Taxes will not stimulate the economy. Taxes will not put food in anyones' mouth (except maybe the bureaucrats who run the whole dog and pony show). Taxing the internet will not increase sales.

      HOWEVER, there is a legitimate issue of tax avoidance that should be addressed. This issue was never addressed in the mail-order days because mail-order sales never amounted to a significant portion of all sales. However, in the era of the Internet (which is now over), it was much easier for people to go online and buy stuff tax-free, especially big ticket items like computers that would generate $70+ in revenue for the states and localities. Making it so easy to avoid sales tax quickly started drying up state coffers. This wasn't a problem because the loss in sales tax revenue was more than made up for by the increases in income tax revenue that was the result of ultra-low unemployment and the higher wages that went along with it. Now that the income tax stream is pretty much gone, and states are instead paying out "welfare" type benefits, we have a cash flow problem.

      What we have been seeing thus far is rising sales tax rates everywhere to account for tax-free sales that go on over the internet. Shifting the sales tax burden to fewer and fewer shoppers is dangerous business because it is essentially narrowing the tax base. Continuing the trend will eventually lead to the expiration of brick-and-mortar retail alltogether. We've seen this phenomenon in real-estate for decades. One school district decides it wants more money, so it raises tax rates until people start leaving. However, they can't reduce their budget, so they have to raise taxes more to offset those who leave. This cycle continues until you have New Paltz, NY, where the tax rates on my parents' $130k home are almost $10k per year, and Pottstown, PA where I was going to buy my new home until I found out that the tax on the meager $120k "estate" was over $5k per year. The same could happen in retail if there is always a tax-free solution - or as long as States refuse to cut spending.

      Of course, what are the chances that any government will ever reduce spending? If they try to cut spending, some crybaby group will whine that they're going to "starve the poor".. if they try to increase spending, some other crybaby group will whine that they're going to "tax the middle class"...

      I guess that's the problem, too many crybaby groups.. :)
  • Here in Ontario, Canada I've always been charged tax for my online purchases. Both the 7% GST (Goods and Services Tax) and 8% PST (Provincial Sales Tax). Online stores tend to have a better selection and supply. They're also more convenient. I'd prefer to type in the name of the DVD I want and click "purchase" as opposed to searching through the mess that most DVD sections at my local Best Buy end up being. Plus, I often find online prices are cheaper than in-store ones. As long as there's a free shipping offer, I'm sold :).

  • by Corvaith ( 538529 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:01PM (#5242358) Homepage
    Some people may dismiss this. Oh, how stupid. Of course they didn't collect it, right? They didn't have to.

    That's assuming that there's any rationality to sales tax.

    My father had a home business for awhile. It failed--most small businesses do. During the time he operated, he made not one sale within our state. It happens, when you're making so few sales that you don't even actually have to file income tax.

    The state of Ohio now claims he owes them something along the lines of $20,000 in sales tax.

    But they don't phrase it as 'we think you made enough sales that you now owe us in taxes, which we estimate to be $20,000', no. They say 'you owe us $20k, pay up'.

    And there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

    For a large retailer? This could be a *significant* fear. Assessmants for hundreds of thousands--hell, even millions--in taxes that you didn't collect. Or... changing your policies to start collecting them ASAP.

    How many of you could really say you'd choose the nameless, faceless consumers over your own business?
  • by pmz ( 462998 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:10PM (#5242492) Homepage
    There are several significant categories that will be nearly untouched by on-line sales tax. Travel (airlines, hotels, rental cars), Books (much better selection on-line), and non-x86 computers & software (e.g., UNIX secondary markets) are the ones that immediately come to mind. Just think of those things that can't be bought at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, the local car dealer, or the grocery store, and you'll see all sorts of things that will thrive in on-line sales.

    The aspects of on-line sales that will be hurt are those that probably never needed to be on-line in the first place. For example, I saw an ad for mail-order firewood a few days ago...what the hell are they thinking?!?
  • by ahem ( 174666 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:23PM (#5242668) Homepage Journal
    In California, if you buy something from out of state, you're not charged sales tax. However, at the end of the year, when you file your 540, there's a spot for paying your "Use" tax.

    Anything you buy from out of state is supposed to be declared and you pay a Use Tax equal to the Sales Tax you would have paid if you bought it locally.

    Other states probably have similar provisions.
  • Still cheaper (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zog The Undeniable ( 632031 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:30PM (#5242743)
    I buy stuff online for two reasons: firstly, there's a wider choice than in the local shops and secondly, it can still be much cheaper due to economies of scale and low overheads (like all mail order).

    A couple of examples: DVDs are typically between 8 and 10 UKP from the supplier I use (based in the Channel Islands, which is tax-free BUT because the discs all cost under 18 UKP, they're exempt from having UK duty and VAT loaded onto them when they arrive at Customs). Shop prices are 20 UKP for the same DVDs, although if you're lucky you can find a 2-for-1 offer, which only goes to show what a rip-off the headline price is. Big online suppliers of PC components are so much cheaper than PC World stores, it's not even funny.

  • by purple ( 9259 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:30PM (#5242748) Homepage
    The stores that are affected by this are NOT the mom-n-pop stores that do most of their transactions over the Internet. This deal is ONLY used to tie major retailers' brick and mortar locations to their respective websites. As a specific example, here is a quote from the article:

    "For example, Wal-Mart has 1,500 stores scattered across all 50 states, but WalMart.com, a separate subsidiary, has a physical presence in only nine states."

    WalMart.com's presence in nine states requires them to collect taxes for those nine states. However, this deal would require them to collect in all fifty, since the .com's parent company Wal-Mart has retail stores in those states.

    A store like mWave.com (a personal favorite), whose only presence is in California, would still be treated the same way they've always been: Purchases from outside California are tax-exempt, just like they would be from a mail-order catalog.

    I imagine Dell will be affected by this. They charge no sales tax for orders from "Dell Home", but "Dell Business" charges tax to everyone. It's likely that, if they buy in to this deal, Dell Home will charge tax to everyone.

    The short of it is, though, Don't Panic! If you're shopping for bargains online, you'll still find them.
  • by Gregoyle ( 122532 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:31PM (#5242758)
    I'm from New Hampshire. We don't have sales tax. Delaware also doesn't have it. I'm not sure how many other states there are like us, but I presume there are at least a couple.

    So does this mean that the only time I won't be paying tax on my online purchases will be when I'm shopping at stores in my home state? This strikes me as at least a little bit absurd. If I mail order something from a company in a state that charges sales tak I don't have to pay it; why should this be any different?
  • by zentec ( 204030 ) <.zentec. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:32PM (#5242768)

    Wal-mart and Target have operations in all states. Ergo, they already collect sales taxes for that appropriate state and it's no big deal to include online and telephone sales, which they should have been doing anyway.

    Ever notice on television advertisements for "The Osmonds Greatest Hits", you'll see the disclaimer that "residents of New York add sales tax". That's because the company pushing and fufilling the order has offices in New York. They're required to collect taxes for orders going to destinations within the state of NY. So, there's nothing terribly earth shattering about what these companies are doing nor the agreement that has been reached. I argue that Target/Wal-mart are trying to keep their respective tits out of the wringer because they haven't been collecting taxes for online/telephone sales.

    In fact, I argue that this is the first step in stricter enforcement of sales tax laws directed at large corporations.

    HOWEVER, you'll note that this is a voluntary program. The states can not force the guy at FixYourOwnPrinter.com to collect sales taxes for parts sold to anyone in any state other than his own. It is unconstitutional.

    While this voluntary program is technically correct, I think it may be the first step at a wider attempt at regulating interstate commerce. Which of course, the states can not do per the Constitution.

    Look for this one argued in the US Supreme Court soon.

  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:35PM (#5242793) Homepage
    This could be a good thing in the long run. On one hand, it adds yet another layer to our already complicated network of taxation. On the other, it might be a step toward simplifying taxation overall. I would like to see us eventually replace ALL taxes with a single National Retail Sales Tax, distributed to all states and the federal government.

    One scheme that was proposed several years ago (but died in committee) combined a sales tax of 20% and an annual refund of 20% of whatever the government declared was poverty level income. Every head of household would receive the same dollar amount refund, adjusted for dependents. All income tax, including corporate tax, would be abolished. People with more money would pay more tax because they spend more money. For poor people, who spend all or nearly all their income, the refund would amount to ALL the sales tax they paid, because the refund would be set at 20% of a poverty income. For wealthier people the refund would amount to only a fraction of the tax they paid.

    This would accomplish the same thing as a continuously graduated income tax rate, but without the 4000 pages of IRS rules and 105,000 IRS employees we now use to collect the same amount of money. The vast army of accountants, clerks, lawyers and consultants whose careers are dedicated to paying and avoiding taxes would have to find something productive to do with their lives.

    To manipulate a sales-tax-only system, Congress would have just 2 numbers to work with: the percentage rate and the refund ammount, and any changes they made would be completely out in the open. No corporate taxes would be built into the cost of everything we buy. No custom-designed loopholes would be created to pay back campaign contributions. People would pay tax according to how rich they are and how much stuff they consume, the opportunities for cheating would be far fewer than now, and everybody who would know exactly how much tax they were paying.

    If we did switch to an all-sales-tax system it would be essential to enforce it on all sales, which means it would have to be collected on e-commerce. So on that basis, I think instituting the practice and getting people used to it could be a good step.
  • by Blimey85 ( 609949 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @02:41PM (#5242879)
    I live in Seattle... or rather Burien which is 10 miles south of Seattle. Portland is only a couple of hours form here and has lots of nice big stores for me to shop at without paying sales tax. Yes I know that it's my duty as a citizen residing in Washington state to report what I have purchased and pay sales tax on it once I return, but I say screw that. I bought it in another state and WA did nothing at all to earn that money from me so they can't have it.

    It's not like they have a way to tell what I bought here and what I bought there. Sure they could have a check point at the border but they don't, and until they do, shop in Oregon I will. I do shop here as well but going to Portland for the weekend is fun and I find myself doing a lot of shopping whenever I'm there. Next month I'm going to be in Ashland, OR for two weeks and will most likely do some shopping on the way home. Sales tax doesn't seem like much but 8% adds up rather quickly.

  • Come on, people! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beagle ( 99378 ) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @03:05PM (#5243224)
    To read the comments here, it would seem that every Slashdot reader thinks that goods purchased online are subject to neither Use Tax nor Sales Tax.

    This is nothing new. It's not a new tax, and it is not any less legitimate than the sales tax you pay when you go to a brick & mortar establishment. (The legitimacy of that sales tax is debatable.)

    If anything, this agreement helps consumers in that we no longer have to track our out-of-state purchases in order to pay Use Tax on those items. You do pay Use Tax on those items, right? If you don't, you're breaking the law if your state has a Sales Tax.

    As for curbing sales, this move will only curb online sales for sites that are already not competitive. Them's the breaks in a free market.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."