Back in the early nineties, when on line retail sales began to take hold, there were already the liberal, greedy, "tax grabbers" that wanted to fulfill Ronald Reagan's description of them: "if it moves, tax it!". I was against the Internet tax back then because I believed it would put a damper on a fledging new form of American capitalism.
And I believed in allowing Amazon and E-Bay and all the thousands of other Internet retail start ups the opportunity to bloom into full fledged retail giants. And here's why I believe it is now time for the Internet retailer's tax free status to end.
Amazon has become such a giant that it has literally left thousands of brick and mortar corpses scattered across the land. Circuit City is no more. Best Buy is on their last legs. Even monster Walmart is feeling the pressure from Internet giants like Amazon.
The problem is that Best Buy and Office Max and Barnes and Noble and Walmart must absorb the costs of building brick and mortar stores, paying more for labor and utility costs, ship to store costs, and local advertising. And they must all charge for the sales tax applicable to the area. This gives the Internet Behemoths like Amazon a tremendous cost advantages when operating in a tax free environment.
So what you say! Well here's the "so what". The bricks and mortar stores support communities through the payment of sales taxes, hiring local citizens, and becoming a "citizen" in their respective communities. Those sales taxes, and the income generated from income taxes on employees go toward supporting those communities. To date, the Internet retailers have had so such responsibility and they are literally destroying the "brick and mortar" tax bases every community needs in order to survive and thrive.
And of all taxes collected, I like the sales tax the best. It rakes in all the tax dodgers that otherwise contribute nothing to our society. It collects taxes from welfare queens, illegal Mexicans, drug dealers, and tax dodgers all. And without those "brick and mortar" sales taxes we could expect our property taxes to go far higher in order to meet local and state revenue requirements.
And what of the "whey and cry" from Internet retailers who say trying to collect sales tax for thousands of municipalities is an accounting nightmare? I say bull hockey. Within six months some innovative software company will have written a program that does just that. Internet retailers are already deploying thousands of algorithmic data to track consumer preferences, consumer behavior and all manner of retail sciences. Whether Quickbooks writes it or Intuit, or some new software start-up, the program will be there when it is ultimately needed.
The Senate version of the Internet Sales Tax bill has already exempted those companies with less than a million dollars in annual sales. That may need to be tweaked a bit...perhaps raising the number to ten million in annual sales. Never the less, it's time we began leveling the playing field between those who operate in a tax free Internet and those brick and mortar stores who've chosen to invest in our communities. The tax inequality as it now stands is not fair, either to the retailers, or to our communities who need those sales taxes to support our community needs.