Sunday, August 07, 2011

Stop Tax on the 'net guy at Target

What do you guys think? Should you only pay tax when you buy a t-shirt inside the brick and mortar Surfy Surfy Surf Shop and not when you shop the Surfy Surfy online store?


  1. Does the man have an argument why retail purchases should not be taxed online? Would that be fair to consumers who don't or cannot pay for the same thing online? Net retail tax we can handle. Obese governtment and their inability to manage our money we can change. Think or thwim.

  2. The internet was making Americans lazy and fat. They don't even have to walk the aisle anymore. Online retail should be banned. People will be much happier and healthy if they walk to the store and down the aisles.

    I only use the internet from my PDA when walking.

  3. Americans are making Americans lazy and fat. Its there choice, and they seem to be good at making the easy and wrong ones lately.

  4. I'm making Americans lazy and fat. I'm an American on the internet.

  5. I'm lazy and fat. You should try it. Skinny, active people are not happy.

  6. Winston,
    The argument against taxing online purchases is that it is not possible. There are different local tax rates across cities and counties that don't necessarily relate to zip codes. So the online retailer would have to map each address they ship to in order to determine the tax rate they should charge. Then they charge that rate and pay it to the correct tax authority. A seller could easily have to pay taxes to thousands of different tax collectors. It makes the work of paying taxes prohibitive to doing business.

  7. Tough call.

    Local retailers are screwed by the high taxes, but the Amazon tax only drives local businesses out of state">. And taxing out-of-state vendors for roads and police and welfare services they don't use isn't exactly fair.

    The best option would be to lower sales taxes to 4% or so where they were originally, which wouldn't make so much of a big price difference between local and online purchases... but then that would require the prison guards' union and all the other leeches on the state to give up their sweet deals.

  8. "Winston,
    The argument against taxing online purchases is that it is not possible."

    Encinitas Retailer's for sales on ebay for example require a 7.75% sales tax to California residents who make online purchases through their service. That is neither complex nor impossible and it's worked for years. Other counties taxes vary in the state, but the issue is subjective. It denpends where the seller lives for how much tax is charged for merchandise. Seems to me it would be unfair to offline California residents who cannot purchase the same items, if there is no sales tax on the same goods for the privileged geeks online. Hey wait a minute. I'm online.

    On the brighter side of the end of the world, sales tax here just went down a whole percent. Go figure.

  9. Winston,
    It is true that if you have one location from which you sell, the online tax issue isn't very difficult. The problem is when you run a business with multiple distribution points. Amazon is the extreme example because they sell items from thousands of suppliers who ship directly from their location. If taxes are charged only if you are shipping within CA, CA only companies would be penalized because national companies could ship from an AZ or NV location and skip on the taxes. Or the tax can be charged if you have any distribution in CA (which is what they are trying for, I believe), in which case, companies move operations out of CA.

    Ultimately, I am for a sales tax on internet sales. I rarely buy online so I would prefer it if online taxes were collected. It just needs to be done in a way that is easy for businesses and doesn't drive business out of CA. Any ideas?

  10. Bart, It sounds tough but the technology is already in place for sales taxes that adjust for each municipality's different rates. Mail order and online sellers mainly use credit card/debit card, so it's just another layer on that process.

    You probably are thinking mom&pop businesses that accept out of state checks and payments other than credit/debit many of those are there? I agree, those businesses it will be tougher to collect and fairly apply sales tax, but for the bulk of the transactions it is already there. Amazon does it in NY State, and Apple does it nationwide.

  11. Though it's technologically possible, that's kind of moot because of a 1992 Supreme Court ruling.

    The Amazon tax in California and other states tries to get around this by saying that if Amazon has marketing affiliates in California, that's a "physical presence." That just caused Amazon to fire all of its California affiliates and they still don't have to collect sales tax.

  12. Commerce has changed since 1992 so I wouldn't be surprised to see that ruling challenged.

    Amazon's only presence IS the web. Convenience my arse, Amazon's competitive advantage is exploiting local tax savings. There is another website (CNET) that routes your order for tech stuff to the dealer that is not your state.

    The crap you buy, whether it's from Amazon or from bricks'n'mortar business still gets to your house by USING the roads, the trains, the real estate, etc. Why shouldn't they pay some sort of USE tax?

    Didn't they outlaw online gambling? To me, that's not much different. If the casino is located offshore, and you bet online, you're still gambling and they outlawed that. I can't remember if it stuck, or what but I remember a big hoopla a few years ago.

  13. HH,

    UPS and FedEx pay all kinds of gas taxes for the roads and property taxes for their facilities and car taxes for their trucks, and their employees pay state income taxes.

    They pass these costs on to Amazon and other shippers in their pricing.

    Should you be hit with big Arizona taxes to send a package to a friend in Arizona on top of the shipping costs which contain embedded gas, vehicle, property, and payroll taxes?

    Arguing that someone who sends a package to California uses state services as much as someone who has a store, utilities, employees, kids in schools, etc., strains credulity.

  14. Fedex and UPS are like "carpooling" for packages.

    When I bought a $2,000 gold plated dildo from Toys in Babeland, the shipping was only $14.95 but the gubmint lost out on $160!

  15. HH,

    I commend your choice of leisure products, and especially your choice of metallic plating. But California didn't "lose out" on anything. They provided you no services, so you paid no taxes other than the gas and other taxes embedded in the shipping cost.

    I think the tax issue boils down to the state vs. the individual. If you vacation in Portland and buy some stuff with Oregon's 0% sales tax, should California stop and search you at the border and charge you use tax on everything you bought? What if you have a friend buy something in a zero-tax state and mail it to you? Should the state track you down?

    It's just a revenue grab for the state. And yes, it sucks for California retailers, but the solution is to cut their sales tax, not try to make California residents slaves to the state who must pay taxes for everything they do even outside the state.

  16. Again WC is right. Dam that guy is smart!

  17. First, all taxes suck and our gov't spends too much... that is undeniable.

    Beyond that, consumption taxes (especially of discretionary items) are the fairest form of tax. If you accept that they are the fairest form of tax, then how can you leave a giant loophole by letting people by their dildos out of state?

  18. The best way to handle Internet tax is directly through the Federal government. Let the Feds charge a roughly 6% tax on all Internet sales - collected from the seller for sales within the US and paid by the buyer on International sales. In a perfect world, the States would not be allowed to charge a state tax period.Obviously that is probably not legal or practical in today's economic climate. If such a plan was put in place, the States should be given their last years full Internet tax directly from the government - this would still be profitable for the feds because some states don't have an Internet tax or charge less than 6%. The next year the states would be given less than their full allotment, and less the next year until they were "weaned off" Internet taxes. If the courts rule that sales within a state made on the Internet were legal for the the states to tax, the states would then tax business out of the state much as Amazon has done in California. In the long run, the states are better accepting the "wean off" program and keeping business in the state. This makes collecting the tax and paying the feds easy for the seller and evens out the competition between the Internet retailer and the brick and morter store. It also provides a new revenue source for the Feds, which is sorely needed.
    I sent this proposal to President Obama and I am sure he carefully read it. I am holding my breath till he gets back to me.

  19. Amazon is funding this petition campaign.

    But then Wal-Mart and Target gave big money to Sacramento legislators to pass the Amazon tax in the first place. They've got a front group pretending to be a bunch of mom-and-pops, but it's all funded by the big boys who have done their own share of running mom-and-pops out of business. And the Amazon tax didn't accomplish anything but get Amazon to fire a bunch of California "affiliates" until they relocate out of state. See the case of local girl Erica Douglass, one of hundreds or thousands of small Internet businesses driven out of California by the Amazon tax.

  20. lindpat,

    the FEDs screw everything up. Keep as local as you can.

  21. Yes, I have been really impressed by the way California has dealt with their finances and the City has a golf course that has really been handled well.


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