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Dick Durbin Demands Internet Sales Tax

From CNET:

Democratic senator wants Internet sales taxes

By Declan McCullagh
April 12, 2011

A Democratic senator is preparing to introduce legislation that aims to end the golden era of tax-free Internet shopping.

The proposal–expected to be made public soon after Tax Day–would rewrite the ground rules for Internet and mail order sales by eliminating the ability of Americans to shop at Web sites like Amazon.com and Overstock.com without paying state sales taxes.

We still contend that the country would be a better place if elections were held the day after ‘Tax Day.’

Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second most senior Senate Democrat, will introduce the bill after the Easter recess, a Democratic aide told CNET.

"Why should out-of-state companies that sell their products online have an unfair advantage over Main Street bricks-and-mortar businesses?" Durbin said in a speech in Collinsville, Ill., in February. "Out-of-state companies that aren’t paying their fair share of taxes are sticking Illinois residents and businesses with the tab."

You see, it’s all about ‘fairness.’ Mr. Durbin is so concerned about those poor brick and mortar businesses. He is a champion of small businesses, just like all Democrats are.

At the moment, Americans who shop over the Internet from out-of-state vendors aren’t always required to pay sales taxes at the time of purchase. Californians buying books from Amazon.com or cameras from Manhattan’s B&H Photo, for example, won’t pay the sales taxes at checkout time that they would if shopping at a local mall–which is what Durbin means by giving online retailers an "unfair advantage."

On the other hand, there are some 7,500 different taxing jurisdictions in the United States, each with a set of very precise rules describing what can and can’t be taxed and at what rate. That makes it challenging terrain for retailers to navigate.

In New Jersey, for instance, bottled water and cookies are exempt from sales tax, but bottled soda and candy are taxable. In Rhode Island, buying a mink handbag is taxed, but a mink fur coat is not.

And this "challenging terrain" is all that has stood between us and an internet sales tax. But don’t worry, the Democrats are seeking a way around it. (See below.)

Durbin’s bill will be called the Main Street Fairness Act, which follows legislation introduced last July in the House of Representatives bearing the same name

Ever notice how any bill with "Fairness" in its name is anything but fair?

Making matters more difficult for the pro-tax forces is the decision by Rep. William Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, not to run for reelection last year. Delahunt was probably Congress’ most enthusiastic proponent of Internet sales taxes, and it’s not clear a Republican-controlled House will be as eager to embrace the idea.

Please embrace the idea, all you Democrats. And enjoy an early retirement like Mr. Delahunt.

One early indication: Rep. Dan Lungren, a California Republican, introduced legislation in February saying that allowing states to levy "onerous and burdensome sales tax collecting schemes on Internet-enabled small businesses that do not even reside in their state would adversely impact hundreds of thousands of jobs."

Who cares? The important thing is that this new tax would give the federal government more money so Democrats can give it to their constituents in exchange for votes.

Nothing else matters. Literally.

In response to complexity concerns, the pro-tax forces have offered a proposal that they hope Congress can be persuaded to adopt. The concept is called the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement, which was invented in 2002 by state tax officials hoping to straighten out some of sales tax laws’ most notorious convolutions.

Since then, some 24 states have signed on, either wholly or partially, to the agreement, meaning they have agreed to simplify their tax codes and make them uniform. If enough states participate, proponents believe it will ease concerns about complexity and make it easier to convince Congress to make sales collection mandatory for out-of-state retailers

Isn’t it wonderful how politicians can come together to find news ways to wring money from their citizenry?

Support for Durbin’s forthcoming legislation is likely to come from the Alliance for Main Street Fairness and like-minded companies including Wal-Mart and Best Buy

You see, even Wal-Mart can be heroes – when they push for more taxes.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, April 13th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

22 Responses to “Dick Durbin Demands Internet Sales Tax”

  1. bill says:

    I didn’t know tax bills originate in the Senate …

  2. Astravogel says:

    Back Door Deals on Main Street. What I
    have trouble with are the eMail firms that
    charge me tax and most likely don’t send
    it to the State. I asked the State about it
    and they couldn’t discuss it for some
    reason or other. Don’t get me started on
    “Shipping and Handling” and “Second one
    free, just pay separate Shipping and Handling.”
    Pretty soon we’ll have $10 Rolex’s with S&H
    of $20,000. Our State has a Tax Form which
    you submit for products bought out of state
    and you figure your tax. Not sure how that’s
    working out. Yeah, right. Taxes have made
    the American people the biggest chislers
    since the Egyptians built the pyramids. As
    Twain said, ‘No man’s liberty or property are
    safe when the legislature’s in session.”

  3. proreason says:

    Remember when children fell asleep with thoughts of sugar plums dancing in their dreams?

    Now, little liberals like Dickie Durban fall asleep to dreams of new taxes.

  4. SinCity says:

    The Main Street Fairness Act?!?! Really?

    ‘”Why should out-of-state companies that sell their products online have an unfair advantage over Main Street bricks-and-mortar businesses?” Durbin said in a speech in Collinsville, Ill., in February. “Out-of-state companies that aren’t paying their fair share of taxes are sticking Illinois residents and businesses with the tab.”‘ –Article

    To me the name of the bill and the above quote is surreal. It’s like I am reading a chapter from “Atlas Shrugged”.

    • Chrispbass says:

      I’m reading that book, for the 1st time, right now and you said what I was thinking. Gotta love creative titling.

    • SinCity says:

      I love the book, I highly recommend it to anybody who has the patience to read such a long tome. I am about half way through it, and reading the story reminded me of the “anti-dog-eat-dog act”. Ayn Rand hit the nail on the head, and that was back in 1959!

    • Right of the People says:


      You have to remember where Miss Rand came from, the glorious USSR. She grew up with socialism and was very familiar with all the crap that comes with it that Durbin, Reid and Barry the Impotent are trying to cram down our throats.

  5. The Redneck says:

    Who cares? The important thing is that this new tax would give the federal government more money so Democrats can give it to their constituents in exchange for votes.

    Nothing else matters. Literally.

    Unfortunately, that’s not the case. It will also give the federal government more authority to look through your internet purchases and businesses–and to the Democrats that ay well be more important than the money.

  6. TerryAnne says:

    Great idea. Let’s tax the bejesus out of companies who have been shutting down their brick and mortar buildings to turn to mostly online sales. If this passes, I will not buy another thing on the internet (except for registering for my dance school, as that’s the only way to register).

    If you’re lucky, Dick, you’ll chase every last company out of America. Except for those who are owned by minorities or the local commune, that is.

    • proreason says:

      They hate small businesses, online or brick and mortar. Facists always shut small businesses down first.

      It isn’t just about taxes. In this case, they know they will get less tax revenue because the online businesses will just go somewhere else, along with the owners, and THEIR tax dollars..

      It’s a totalitarian efficiency issue. It’s much easier to break a handful of kneecaps rather than thousands of kneecaps.

      Like almost everything else, it’s about power. They aren’t happy with anything less than absolute power.

    • beautyofreason says:

      When I purchase goods online I do it for price; I like to bypass the overhead that stores charge for having a brick and mortar business (prices are 50% more in Manhattan due to the sheer cost of floor level real estate, for instance). I also hate running errands, so any extra cost is worth it to me. When I go to a brick and mortar store, it’s for convenience – a new book, or sale, or food, or some other incentive.

      I don’t always save money using the internet, though. A good chunk of my purchase price goes to shipping with the U.S. Postal service. If the government wants to lose even more money in that area perhaps they should push through that internet tax because a 6%, 7% or 8% hike in prices (whatever the tax in your state) would be enough for me to rein in my purchases. This tax will backfire. For instance it’s hard enough to make money on ebay with upwards of 15% paypal and ebay final value fees; an internet tax would further punish American sellers and encourage the vacuum to be filled by cheap warehouse shippers from China (there are many selling on the site already).

      The internet is a great thing for frugal people, especially as I like to buy things second hand. It just doesn’t make sense to purchase a new piece of furniture when a gently used variation can be had for half the price, and reupholstered or slip covered. What is the government going to do about those untaxed purchases, go after individual sellers who want to part with their spare clutter? How much more money can they siphon from the people who do pay taxes?

      I’m glad a Senator who voted to receive his full salary every year after retirement has the time to work on the nuances of tax law for the little people.

  7. David says:

    Yes it is small online businesses that are ruining this country by not forking money over to cities and states that offer zero benefit to that business.

  8. xdannyh says:

    What is Durbin’s real motive here? There are a few states the do not have a sales tax, how about when states like AZ have tax holiday times when for certain types of purchases there is no sales tax levied. Should we all wait till then to make purchases on the internet or perhaps start a re-shipping business in a no sales tax state. Why is Durbin worried about the 57 states (oops an Obama faux pas) and their ability to tax or not tax. Big Brother knows no bounds. A call to action is needed it is time to declare a national tax holiday(s). A proven way to shut down government, stop paying them. Wasn’t it Biden that said that tax compliance was voluntary?

    • SinCity says:

      “A proven way to shut down government, stop paying them. ”

      Starve the spending beast, I agree 100%. That is the only way we can even come close to begin fixing the fiscal problems facing our and future generations.

    • Right of the People says:

      Of course the companies could all register in NH which doesn’t have state sales or income tax. Problem solved! There’d be no taxes not being paid and that should make this ass clown happy.

      Illinois is just the New Jersey of the mid-west but without the advantage of the ocean views.

  9. canary says:

    How does Dem Dick Durbin charge tax for internet match Obama’s pre and post presidential promise of free internet for everyone.

  10. Mithrandir says:

    Add an unpopular law, steal your money, maintain their power, and then….

    ~It’s about fairness.
    ~It’s about compromise.
    ~It’s for the kids.
    ~Saving old people.
    ~Helping children.
    ~Supporting the military.
    ~It’s about equality.
    ~It’s about equal rights for women/ blacks / gays.

    Who is held up as a shield to protect government? The blood of the innocent….

  11. BeatriceV says:

    This debate is not about whether you should be taxed, why you should be taxed, or at what rate you should be taxed; that debate takes place at every election when you choose your local representatives and weigh-in on various ballot initiatives to authorize funding for these services in your community.
    The issue is the most efficient way to collect that tax. Today large internet retailers easily manage millions of items for sale at any given moment, and even the smallest internet retailer can calculate accurate shipping rates to every corner of the country in a blink of an eye. It is no longer too difficult to keep track of a few thousand local jurisdictions.
    As part of the Streamlined Agreement, states have certified several companies to provide technology solutions to online merchants to make collecting sales tax easy. My company offers a service, called TaxCloud, that automatically calculates accurate local sales tax. It also prepares, files and remits the sales tax to the Streamlined states. TaxCloud is completely free to merchants.
    It is better that Congress address this issue so that all businesses collect the correct tax. Until then, more and more states are going to be attempting on their own to collect these taxes, which will increase complexity.

    • heykev says:

      Taken from the TaxCloud web site:

      How can it be free, you might ask?

      As a Certified Service Provider, we are compensated by participating states for providing TaxCloud to merchants.

      Another example of our tax dollars hard at work.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Hey Beatrice, how does it feel to be a tool of the proletariat? Yes, we must be more efficient in how we collect taxes so that others who do not work can have homes and cars and cellphones and plasma TV’s. You are doing the work of the gods, I tell you. Praise be to TaxCloud!

    • TerryAnne says:

      Until then, more and more states are going to be attempting on their own to collect these taxes, which will increase complexity.

      God forbid the States do what they’re allowed to do…

  12. proreason says:

    “The issue is the most efficient way to collect that tax.” well said Karl.

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