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  (Source: csmonitor.com)
The attorney general's office received a petition last Friday, which will require 434,000 voter signatures to qualify for the ballot

Amazon's stance on the collection of sales tax on goods sold over the internet has been clear from day one: it's not going to happen. But a new law in the state of California may change Amazon's mind real fast, or cause it to cut ties to the state.

In the recent past, we've seen the online retailer cut ties with states like Texas, where Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs charged Amazon $269 million in unpaid sales taxes, and Illinois, where Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced a bill called the Main Street Fairness Act, which would force Amazon to collect sales tax. 

Last month, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that would require websites that forward shoppers to Amazon to collect sales tax in California. The law is expected to generate $200 million in revenue, and prompted Amazon to threaten to leave California-based affiliates. 

Now, Amazon is asking California voters to repeal the new law. The attorney general's office received a petition last Friday, which will require 434,000 voter signatures to qualify for the ballot. The attorney general's office will put together a title and summary for the petition. 

Amazon has said that it does not have to collect sales tax because of a 1992 Supreme Court decision that excuses Amazon and other remote sellers from having to collect taxes in U.S. states that do not have the company's employees or warehouses operating within those states. But between states looking for ways to offset large financial deficits and brick-and-mortar stores like Best Buy complaining about Amazon being unfair competition, Amazon is being pushed between a rock and a hard place. 

Website operators are already feeling the effect of the new law. Ken Rockwell, who operates a photography site called www.kenrockwell.com in California, said online retailers have stopped doing business with him because of the new law. 

"I'm trying to figure out some other payment scheme," said Rockwell. "That business model went away. I've got to look for new business models." 

Currently, Amazon only collects sales tax in Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota and Washington.



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RE: Tax for what?
By MobiusStrip on 7/12/2011 8:43:14 PM , Rating: 2
Sales tax isn't collected to mitigate your use of roads or other public resources. It's simply to collect general revenue. If pressed, I'm sure public officials would claim that it covers the licensing, inspection, and other bureaucracy associated with having businesses operating in the state. But of course, I'm sure the businesses are assessed fees specifically for these things too. One example is the ridiculous $800 fee that California charges you to simply start a business. You don't get anything for that money. It's just a rip-off.

The fact is, however, that states are losing vast amounts of money because everybody buys online now. It's also not fair to proprietors of real shops.

The trouble is that interstate taxation is illegal, and this dates back to the earliest days of our country. This patchwork of state laws amounts to de-facto interstate taxation, which is a matter for the federal government. Amazon should've filed suit in federal court and had this resolved nationwide.


RE: Tax for what?
By Reclaimer77 on 7/12/2011 10:02:52 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The fact is, however, that states are losing vast amounts of money because everybody buys online now.


Lie.


RE: Tax for what?
By Spuke on 7/13/2011 11:21:12 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The fact is, however, that states are losing vast amounts of money because everybody buys online now. It's also not fair to proprietors of real shops.
Same argument that was used on mail order catalogs back in the day and they're now protected by a federal law and backed up by precedent. Online retailers are the same as mail order catalogs in that they are NOT required to collect state taxes if they do not reside in that state. In Amazon's home state they DO collect state taxes.


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