Dan Gilmore / December 9, 2015

Republicans Renew Push for Internet Sales Tax

If they truly cared about Liberty and the economy, they would oppose it.

According to Speaker Paul Ryan’s brand of conservatism, the Internet has become an opportunity to uphold Liberty. “Technology is making life more decentralized. The old, top-down formulas just won’t do,” he said last week. For thousands of American entrepreneurs, the Internet has been an integral tool to peddle services and wares nationwide. Seeing how small businesses are the backbone of the economy, you’d think Republicans would do all they can to protect Internet freedom.

But two Republican lawmakers, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), reintroduced a bill that would give states the power to track down those small shops doing business through the Internet and make them pay sales tax from residents who punched in their credit card numbers on their sites. With about 9,600 tax jurisdictions in this country, it’s a bill that could mean the death of small businesses by 10,000 paper cuts. Currently, this bill is supported by the likes of Amazon, which has the infrastructure to handle making the tax code exponentially more complex. Of course, this is probably an attempt to choke out the smaller shops in competition with it.

As Mark Alexander noted in his April 2015 essay on a summer attempt by lawmakers to institute a tax on e-commerce, “Fact is, e-commerce is driven by product selection, retail price comparison and convenience — old-fashioned free-enterprise competition — not the avoidance of local sales tax. The price of shipping often exceeds whatever sales tax was saved. Additionally, many items purchased on the Internet may not be available in a local market, and, much to the shock of some Beltway politicos, not everyone in America lives next to a mall, or wants to burn up time and fossil fuels in search of a higher priced and lower quality product from a Walmart, K-Mart or Sears.”

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