Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

California court rules for enforcement of internet sales tax

Here we go. It's started. While the court's argument that the online activity of (owned by Amazon) and the bricks-and-mortar activity of Borders are too closely entwined to distinguish (allowing customers to return online merchandise to physical stores the most glaring example) has some merit, I'm afraid that this is just the first salvo in this battle, and the wrong team scored a hit. What's interesting to me is the verbiage being used in support of the ruling:
But independent booksellers and other "bricks-and-mortar" retailers have been cheering, saying the ruling should remove their Internet competition's unfair advantage.
Got that? Figuring out a better way to run a business that saves customers money is an "unfair advantage". It's not unfair people, it's just competition, and it's a good thing!
"There are a lot of online retailers who are watching this intently," said Tom Dressler, a spokesman for the California Attorney General's office. "Clearly online retailing is growing so one would think the potential revenue problem is fairly substantial."
Got that? There's a "potential revenue problem" (bureaucratese for "we simply must spend all the billions we're spending"), so we simply must find a way to fleece more funds from the public.
Michael Mazerov, senior fellow at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington D.C., said the case "suggests that having somebody in the state conducting activities that facilitate your out-of-state sales creates your obligation to charge sales tax."
Got that? Just having somebody "facilitating" sales creates a tax obligation. How long do you think before UPS/Fedex (or even customers themselves) are considered "facilitators", making every single online sale that gets shipped anywhere subject to sales tax?


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