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Internet sales tax isn’t dead – it’s just napping until the midterm election is over

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Unread 09.24.14, 05:49 AM
@PersonalLiberty @PersonalLiberty is offline
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Internet sales tax isn’t dead – it’s just napping until the midterm election is over

09.23.14 11:30 PM

Add the debate over the much-discussed Internet sales tax to the list of topics Congress is afraid to touch until after the midterm election has passed.

But that doesn’t mean the idea is dead. Far from it. It’s just too controversial and unpopular to talk about until incumbents have assured themselves they’ll still be in the driver’s seat after November.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reportedly has his sights set on taking up legislation to unleash the states’ power to tax Internet sales as soon as Congress reconvenes after the midterms. The Hill*reported Tuesday that Reid intends to bring up the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) — a measure he says is “long, long overdue” —*when the lame-duck session of the 113th Congress meets this fall to usher president Obama out the door.

You’d think that, with a name like the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” the law might seek to set limits on taxation. Of course it’s the opposite. The bill would free states to assess sales tax on transactions between in-state residents and out-of-state retailers. It’s aimed squarely at large online storefronts like Amazon.

Reid may be gung-ho on the MFA, but his House counterpart, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), has said he opposes the current bill. According to The Hill, even some Congressional Democrats are against it:
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) warned his colleagues last week that anyone trying to combine the two bills was “holding the Internet economy hostage.”

“Anyone who votes for passing MFA alongside ITFA is voting to repeal the Internet Tax Freedom Act,” he said.

Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with devising a way to treat brick-and-mortar retailers and online sellers equally. But the issue is complex.

Online stores already must incorporate sales taxes into transactions initiated in the states where they’re physically located. The loudest advocates for the MFA bill aren’t mom-and-pop operations; they’re companies that operate massive national brick-and-mortar retail networks, like Walmart. And Walmart has an online storefront of its own —*a storefront whose sales tax interests align with those*of other online retailers.

Heck, five states*don’t even have a state sales tax.*

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