Friday, March 22, 2013

Internet tax proposal up for a vote in Senate this week

Internet tax supporters are hoping that a vote in the U.S. Senate as early as today will finally give them enough political leverage to require Americans to pay sales taxes when shopping online.

Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) are expected to offer an amendment to a Democratic budget resolution this week that, by allowing states to “collect taxes on remote sales,” is intended to usher in the first national Internet sales tax.

“We’re working overtime in pushing this, talking to our members, activating our grassroots,” says Stephen Schatz, a spokesman for the National Retail Federation. The group’s board members include OfficeMax, Macy’s, the Container Store, and Saks, which argue it’s only fair to force Americans to pay sales taxes when buying from online retailers.

The justification for the proposal reprises arguments that state tax collectors have made for at least a decade: online retailers that don’t always collect taxes are unreasonably depriving state governments of revenue and enjoy an unfair competitive advantage over big box retailers that do collect taxes. On the other hand, there are close to 10,000 jurisdictions that can levy taxes, each with its own rules and ability to conduct audits, and complying with all of those as a small retailer is not a trivial task.

Taxpayer advocates say an endorsement of a multi-billion dollar tax hike on Americans shouldn’t be snuck into an unrelated budget bill (PDF) that’s expected to be voted on before senators leave for an Easter recess. The National Taxpayers Union set up a petition to Congress this week calling the amendment “really just a way to unleash state tax collectors on the Internet,” and 15 conservative groups sent a letter last week to members of Congress saying an Internet tax law is “is bad news for conservative principles and the cause of limited government.”

They’re joined by by eBay, an association of small Internet sellers called W R HERE, and NetChoice, which includes Facebook, Yahoo, LivingSocial, and AOL as members.

Full article: http://news.cnet.com … in-senate-this-week/



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