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Print 117 comment(s) - last by Ammohunt.. on Apr 29 at 3:36 PM

Cash strapped N.C. looks to milk money out of citizens in its battered local economy

When it comes to internet purchases, you're supposed to individually list them on your yearly tax return and then pay back sales taxes to the state.  Of course, few people do this.  Now the government of North Carolina and other states are battling Amazon.com and other e-tailers to get these records.

Amazon.com this week filed suit against the North Carolina state government -- specifically, the Department of Revenue (DOR) -- claiming that the state's demand for records of virtually every North Carolina resident who has purchased anything from Amazon since 2003 was not only unreasonable, but a violation of privacy.

Amazon writes in a filing for the case, "In re: Amazon.com LLC vs Kenneth R. Lay", Case No. 10-00664, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, "[T]he DOR has no business seeking to uncover the identity of Amazon's customers who purchased expressive content, which makes up the majority of the nearly 50 million products sold to North Carolina residents during the audit period."

If the case is lost, Amazon may have to turn over the records of millions of its customers in North Carolina.  Those individuals who purchased from Amazon (but did not report their purchase on their tax returns) might be audited and face civil penalties. At the very least, they would likely be expected to repay back taxes on the items they failed to report to the government.

In North Carolina, failing to pay state sales taxes is handled as a civil infraction.  Under the codes 105 236(5)c. and 105 236(5)a., citizens can face additional fines for dodging state taxes.  The penalty would likely be to pay 25 percent more tax, except on small items, which would require taxpayers to pay only an additional 10 percent fine.

The fight is the latest in the growing trend of states hungering for internet tax revenue.  Many states have passed or are debating laws that would tax digital downloads such as those offered by Amazon, Steam, Apple's iTunes store, or others.  While many in the public have complained about excessive taxation on the federal level, it is actually the states that have been pushing the most for bigger taxes of late.  The federal government has made some mild efforts to fight taxation of the internet.



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RE: And the purpose?
By invidious on 4/20/2010 12:33:29 PM , Rating: -1
quote:
I just don't understand the constant need for the government to steel from it's citizens
An ironic combination of ignorance and arrogance.

So you think the money the government spends dissapear into the air? The billions of dollars in the annual budget that you might consider "waste" are in actuality funding millions of jobs. Just because you aren't directly recieving part of a specific spending item doesn't mean it is a waste.


RE: And the purpose?
By BladeVenom on 4/20/2010 12:53:56 PM , Rating: 5
The money would fund even more jobs if it stayed in the private sector. The government spends your money to buy votes.


RE: And the purpose?
By kerpwnt on 4/20/2010 1:50:45 PM , Rating: 5
They spend a lot of that money in the private sector.


RE: And the purpose?
By gamerk2 on 4/20/2010 1:56:30 PM , Rating: 5
Hell, they subsidise entire industries (Farming anyome?) to keep them economically viable. Hell, farming subsidies may cost several hundred billion, but they do increase the supply of food, driving down prices for everyone else. Of course, since we dont "see" where the money is going, we yell about how much we pay (which is still less then any other western nation).

Of course, our two biggest expenses are Medicare/Medicade and Military Spending, and one party in particular has made it clear that we can never under any circumstances cut funding for those two entities, so where exactly does that leave us?

I also note: The Feds are running a deficit, as are the states, as are the people who elect to those positions, ordinary americans. Maybe people should start looking in the mirror before asking why government doesn't work right...government in a democracy mirrors its people, after all.


RE: And the purpose?
By mandrews on 4/20/2010 2:14:17 PM , Rating: 5
quote:

Hell, they subsidise entire industries (Farming anyome?) to keep them economically viable. Hell, farming subsidies may cost several hundred billion, but they do increase the supply of food, driving down prices for everyone else. Of course, since we dont "see" where the money is going, we yell about how much we pay (which is still less then any other western nation).


Why should we subsidize industries? That model was tried and failed in communist Russia.

What's the point of claiming to have a free market, if you've essentially nationalized large portions of it behind the scenes?

quote:
Of course, our two biggest expenses are Medicare/Medicade and Military Spending, and one party in particular has made it clear that we can never under any circumstances cut funding for those two entities, so where exactly does that leave us?


Both parties share some guilt here. The Democrats typically try to burden the taxpayer with the cost of paying for programs like welfare that take from those working taxpayers and give to those who generally are too lazy to educate themselves and get a job.

The Republicans, meanwhile wisely recognize that defense spending is essential, but they often go overboard committing to costly military campaigns outside the U.S.

There are some voices of reason within both parties, but often the loudest voices calling for reform are equally corrupt. Look at Sarah Palin who is advocating "fiscal responsibility" and rallying the Tea Party, when she as governor endorsed millions in pork barrel initiatives.

The sad fact is both parties are badly broken at this point, and that there's little point to voting for third parties. The best we can hope for is try to educate ourselves on the track record of our local politicians and support candidates who actually practice fiscal responsibility and oppose those who do not, regardless of the party.


RE: And the purpose?
By nafhan on 4/20/2010 2:30:43 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget about the large percentage of your taxes that go towards repaying interest on the national defecit. I think it was something like 5% of the federal budget last year.


RE: And the purpose?
By soloman02 on 4/20/2010 3:55:35 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Maybe people should start looking in the mirror before asking why government doesn't work right...government in a democracy mirrors its people, after all.


This is a constitutional republic not a democracy. Though one could argue we are no longer a republic as the representatives in congress don't consult or care about the constitution anymore. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2iiirr5KI8


RE: And the purpose?
By ClownPuncher on 4/20/2010 6:07:50 PM , Rating: 2
A constitutional republic with a representative democracy. Always has been.


RE: And the purpose?
By JediJeb on 4/21/2010 10:59:55 AM , Rating: 2
I come from a farming family and I can tell you that the subsidies really don't make it down to the farmers. Maybe some of the buyers make out good on them I don't know. The only "subsidies" most farmers get are low interest loans which have to be paid back even if a crop fails. And usually you are required to carry crop insurance if you take the loans which then eats into any profit a farmer may make. If it cost a farmer $3 per bushel to grow corn, and at the end of the year the price of corn is $2 per bushel, then the farmer just has to take a loss. It is one of the few industries where the producer of the good has no say in what the selling price will be.


RE: And the purpose?
By MojoMan on 4/20/2010 12:57:16 PM , Rating: 3
Sir, have you ever heard of the Federal Reserve? You know, the private banking cartel that controls our economy, and uses you and I, the tax payer, to fund its counterfeiting operation?

You don't think the government steels from the citizens. They do sir, quite literally. I don't think people would be upset if we weren't paying about 50% of everything we make back to the government. Do you work for the government? I do, so I understand where your jobs comments come from. Just because a government job exists though, that does not mean it is necessary. The entire IRS is a questionable (il)legal entity for example. :-)

Remember the government bailouts to failing companies, like AIG? Yes, we have a right to think those billions disappear. Maybe not into thin air, but certainly into places that money does NOT belong.

Now, in NC's defense... Hmmm..... Can't think of a defense since they probably have out-dated tax codes, and simply don't want to put in the effort to correct those tax codes to streamline their revenue. I could be wrong. Somebody feel free to post a link on this point. I'd be interested and open to ideas on this. I doubt there will be much debate her though since the middle class is constantly taxed like crazy while large corporations like Exxon Mobile pay nearly nothing.


RE: And the purpose?
By MrBlastman on 4/20/2010 12:57:09 PM , Rating: 3
Millions of jobs? Say what?

Last time I checked I saw the government piss trillions of dollars down the drain on economic stimulus and hardly any jobs have resulted from it as of yet. Instead, they then spent their time creating a new program that will cost us _even more_ money and--jobs in the private sector.

Our whole government is a waste. Everything _but_ the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. I propose we keep those and fire all the people in Washington.


RE: And the purpose?
By Ammohunt on 4/20/2010 1:41:20 PM , Rating: 2
Q:Tell me einstein where is hte revenue from all these government jobs?
A: their isn't any Government jobs produce nothing! and contribute very little to the economy.


RE: And the purpose?
By kerpwnt on 4/20/2010 2:23:22 PM , Rating: 3
There may be no direct revenue, but government programs can contribute to long term production. Education creates more skilled workers and inventors. Space programs and military intelligence pour money into the American private sector to create new technologies. The DOT creates roads that benefit private industry and often employs private contractors to build and maintain these roads.

Sure there is waste, but to say they contribute very little is a stretch. Even if the money goes to a government job that doesn't appear to produce anything, like soldiers & security workers, at least that money lands in American laborer's pockets and not straight in the Chinese manufacturing industry.


RE: And the purpose?
By Targon on 4/20/2010 2:33:35 PM , Rating: 3
You are talking about the idea of government INVESTING in programs with the idea that there will be some sort of return on that investment, even if it takes a long time. That is something I agree with, but you have to look at the situations where government wastes money, not in investments, but on really stupid garbage.

Now, one big waste is how much money is paid, not to elected officials, but to support staff for elected officials. How much do these people make, and why is it so much more than the same position would pay in the private sector? Why does the government knowingly pay 10 times the going rate for contracted services when the people doing the work could get paid the same if they would be hired by the government directly? Why is it that we don't see government looking at COSTS as the reason for budget problems, rather than on just looking at increasing tax revenue dollars as the solution?


RE: And the purpose?
By sinful on 4/20/2010 8:27:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why does the government knowingly pay 10 times the going rate for contracted services when the people doing the work could get paid the same if they would be hired by the government directly? Why is it that we don't see government looking at COSTS as the reason for budget problems, rather than on just looking at increasing tax revenue dollars as the solution?


ZOMG you've suggested SOCIALISM as a way to reduce costs!

The Republican party DEMANDS that the government create inefficiency by hiring contractors to do those jobs. Anything else is socialism!!

Keep the government out of the private sector by making them use wasteful contractors, then complain about wasteful spending!


RE: And the purpose?
By Kurz on 4/21/2010 9:43:28 AM , Rating: 2
Well it all stems back that the government has a credit card. Its the Currency of the people, and Taxation, and Loans it takes.

Meh if we had a fixed rate Currency we would have stable growth and prosperity instead of these constant up and down business cycles.


RE: And the purpose?
By Newspapercrane on 4/21/2010 10:19:41 AM , Rating: 2
How exactly would one go about creating a "Fixed Rate Currency"?


RE: And the purpose?
By Ammohunt on 4/29/2010 3:36:45 PM , Rating: 2
He is talking about the gold standard which if you analyze the the valid reasons it was abandonded is not a good idea to go back to it.


RE: And the purpose?
By mandrews on 4/20/2010 2:06:04 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
So you think the money the government spends dissapear into the air? The billions of dollars in the annual budget that you might consider "waste" are in actuality funding millions of jobs.


The state and federal governments were never designed to fund "millions of jobs". Rather, they should provide on a state level for maintenance of the road system, education, and law enforcement and on a national level for defense of the nation. Beyond that most of the spending is a waste of taxpayer money.

Soft-headed liberals will try to have you believe that we need to waste billions spending on public healthcare and welfare. People should get jobs, educate themselves, and pay for their own retirements, not leach off the harder working members of society.

If government was reduced to the bare essentials, measures like sales taxes would like be unnecessary.


RE: And the purpose?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/20/2010 6:47:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If government was reduced to the bare essentials, measures like sales taxes would like be unnecessary.


Hell this country used to run just fine without a Federal Income Tax at all. And they claimed even that would just be a "temporary" measure.

I doesn't cost trillions of dollars to govern a country people... it really doesn't.


"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007














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