Thursday, July 26, 2012

Goodbye eBay!

In their continuing quest to crush the American economy (you might think that hyperbolic, but with politicians you have to watch what they do, not what they say--"create jobs", "invest in business", "reinvent the economy", blah blah blah--you'll be surprised at the gulf between the two), the U.S. Congress now wants to create an Internet sales tax.  This idea has been floating around for years, but with the economy still limping along and government expenditures still rising (apparently, the idea that they should stop spending above their income doesn't occur to them), the dimwits in Congress, with some cheerleading from big corporations such as Wal-Mart, have decided that if they just tax out of state Internet sales, everything will be all right.

Thus, we have H.R. 3179.

If this idea makes sense to you, then you're freaking crazy.  I sell my novels online.  I dutifully collect sales tax for the state of Ohio for any I sell to people in Ohio.  The paperwork is a pain, but as a patriotic Buckeye, I do it.  Now the sponsors of the new Internet sales tax bill want me to do the same for every state and municipality that has a sales tax.

All 9,000 or so of them. 

Forget it.  I don't sell enough novels to make it worth my time to deal with that much paperwork, plus all the business license fees (Ohio's was $25 when I paid it).

And, I suspect, that's what the lobbyists behind the bill's sponsors want.  They want people like me to give up and sell exclusively through large, corporate middlemen such as Amazon.Com, if I sell at all.

There's some talk about having a small business exemption for businesses such as mine which don't make a lot of money, but some in Congress don't even want that.  They want me and Amazon to be treated exactly the same.

Um, I'm not a huge corporation.  I'm just an individual.

If the bill passes and there's no small business exemption, then say goodbye to eBay and any other place where sellers can sell directly to buyers.  If you're a consumer, then you can also say goodbye to lower prices and more choices online.  The big corporations behind this push are looking to eliminate their competition; don't believe the nonsense they spout about fairness and how brick and mortar retailers are suffering just because they have to charge sales tax (um, b&m retailers also offer a product that's available right then, without having to wait for it to arrive in the mail--nobody's arguing that online retailers are suffering because I can't instantly teleport a copy of The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus to a customer, but believe me I'm suffering).

In addition, states such as Ohio already have a "use tax" that taxes out of state catalog or Internet purchases already, so the law isn't needed.  States just need to get their acts together and collect use taxes.  As usual, the government would rather someone else, in this case me, do it for them.

And this idea is based on the assumption that one thinks the government should be taxing every little economic transaction between people in the first place; there are other ways of collecting taxes.  Sales taxes are regressive taxes; they affect the poor more than they do the rich.  The poor don't vote in as high as numbers as wealthier individuals do so no wonder that both Democrats and Republicans seem to be enthusiastic about this new tax bill.      

Netchoice and some others are fighting the legislation.  I wish them luck; I'll also contact my rep.  I hope that you do the same.

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