Amazon Pushes for Online Sales Tax Standards, Smaller E-Tailers Push Back
December 2, 2011 10:10 AM
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Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president of global policy
Smaller online retailers believe Amazon is using sales tax standards to crush smaller competitors
Amazon asked Congress to set federal standards for states' online sales tax collection in a House Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this week.
Amazon spent a lot of time battling the collection of online sales taxes over the past couple of years. If forced to collect sales tax in a particular state, Amazon would simply pack its bags and move on to another state. This happened in states such as
Amazon got away with avoiding sales tax collection because of a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that excuses Amazon and other remote sellers from having to collect taxes in states that do not have the company's employees or warehouses operating within their borders. However, Amazon said it would comply with sales tax collection of online goods if there was federal regulation instead of different states with different rules.
Now, Amazon is pushing Congress to set standards more than ever. Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president for global public policy, attended a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday to address the issue of federal standards for collecting state sales taxes online.
Some lawmakers are onboard with Amazon's request, such as Representative John Conyers (D-MI), who sides with brick-and-mortar retailers regarding online retailers' "unfair advantage."
John Otto, an accountant and state representative from Texas, is also onboard with the idea and addressed the concerns of Republican panel members regarding whether the sales tax collection would be viewed as a tax increase.
"This is not a new tax we're collecting," said Otto. "It's a tax we've been unable to collect."
Not everyone is cheering for
Amazon's position on taxes
, though. Smaller online retailers like Overstock.com believe Amazon is jumping onboard the tax wagon now because it's a chance to hurt smaller competitors. Amazon is so huge now that it can handle being taxed while smaller e-tailers like Overstock could largely be affected by such taxes.
But Misener doesn't see it that way. He said the sales tax collection wouldn’t be as burdensome as the smaller e-tailer's think.
"With today's computing and communications technology, widespread collection no longer would be an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce, and Congress feasibly can authorize the states to require all but the very smallest volume sellers to collect," said Misener.
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RE: Agree with the taxing or not...
12/5/2011 9:19:37 PM
People, Amazon has an evil agenda behind it. Let's say you are a merchant on Amazon, having a DVD for sale fulfilled by Amazon. Do you know how much Amazon would charge you (the seller) when someone buys your DVD, for a first-class level shipping service? How about 1/4th of you normally would pay? Amazon is not likely to absorb the shipping cost for you, so imagine how much it actually cost Amazon to ship that DVD?
How can this be done? I don't know, but may be it has something to do with Amazon Prime. But the thing is, the shipping cost of Amazon is much lower than almost everyone else. So, it can cut its price further even when it has to charge buyers sales tax, while everyone else can't do the same. Now that the Kindle Fire is released, which will only be at its full potential when someone joins Amazon Prime, it will only make Amazon's position stronger.
So, of course, Amazon won't object to this sales tax bill.
"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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