Years ago when Internet commerce started the kind people in Washington decided to waive sales tax for purchases made online. How nice of them. They claimed they were doing it to help promote business over this new fangled thing called the World Wide Web.
That’s what they said but what right do they have to layer another tax on the people?
The reason your local retail stores should charge sales tax is because the local government needs to spend extra money for police, fire, roads, etc… to support that storefront. They really have not right to levy a tax on some Internet based merchant across the country. They are not incurring any additional expenses because that merchant happens to sell you some product.
Another complaint is that online stores that do not charge sales tax pose unfair competition for local stores who do charge sales tax. I don’t think a sales tax of 1% to even 10% will keep people from buying products from their local stores. But a few things that will keep them away from their local stores could be; lack of product selection, nasty store clerks, non-unique products, the trip to the store (just to find out they don’t have what you want), and inconvenient store hours.
So if this Internet tax does go through then what will those less than sharp local retailers have to complain about. Will they expect congress to limit the selection and service online retailers offer? Will they ask for disaster funds to hire and train competent employees?
Here’s what it comes down to… At 2:14 AM I read an article in the paper about a new book that sounds interesting. I want to own the physical book so an electronic version will not work for me. I am not going to jump in my car, find a book retailer, deal with arrogant staff to help me find the book then drive home. I am going to do what most people would do. Take less than one minute to order the book online and be happy when it sows up on my doorstep in a day or so.
This is what Internet retail is all about. Convenience and service. Tack on a few extra pennies in taxes will not stop me from buying online. But it will open the barn door on even more taxes.