The Internet Sales Tax: Another Example of America's Addiction to Spending by Christopher Blakeley


   First, it’s doubtful you’ll ever hear an advocate for more taxes on this site (except possibly in our new Common Ground section...), but if you do, the tax will probably more or less equate to what it is being taxed, i.e. use the tax from the eventual legality of pot to fund drug rehabilitation centers. In the case of the way this new Internet Sales Tax will be administered, it’s hard to find any sort of justification other than to provide a new, untapped revenue stream to bury our debt problems under printed cash. As more and more services and products are purchased across the internet, the government has to get in early, and set the rules strong and fast. Large companies such as Amazon were in favor for such a deal, as it, to use a quote from Paul Misener, Amazon’s Vice President of Global Public Policy, “levels the playing field” for all sellers. 

    On the internet, as in real life, a level playing field is simply a fantasy. When one person attempts to level the playing field, it is in relation to what they see as unfair. The stores with a physical location must tax the sales based on the laws of their respective state. Those on the internet don’t have to. As with most pieces of legislation that are supported by massive corporations, they will most likely attempt to use that terribly vomit inducing metaphor about a playing field as a way for them to come out ahead. Companies use jobs such as Vice President of Global Public Policy (see: Lobbyist) as a way to write themselves a little provision that enables them to have more control of the effects of the legislation. Wal-Mart did it in Dodd-Frank. Everyone did it in the Stimulus.

    As with all things, the Devil is in the details. Since the bill recently passed the Senate in a 69-24 majority, it now sits waiting for the House to take it up. A close friend of The Urban Libertarian, one of a more socialist persuasions, remarked that at least the House Republicans will stop it. It seems that when taxes are a bad idea, only the American people will be in agreement. 

    In principle, economics, and common sense we stand for Freedom, and we oppose this tax. This tax should be justified with the why of us adding it now. What benefits will this tax have? Who will be affected? Meghan McArdle posted a great piece as to why Amazon supports it, and it comes down to a competitive advantage: 

     Amazon can afford to pay a small army to hassle with states who claim that Amazon             

     isn't paying enough tax.  Mom's Cupcake Bakery and Cable Store cannot. 

    Can anyone explain to me how this is tax levels the playing field if those who already have a competitive advantage due to the way that large companies end up coming out even further ahead financially? More over, what will this tax go to fund? 

    It doesn’t seem that the government likes doing anything to help the internet. We’ve had bill after bill like CISPA, PIPA and SOPA; we’ve had questions about whether an email is under the same constitutional protections as a phone call. Governments are scared of the internet, because it is something they will ultimately have vastly limited control over. And when they think they do, that’s when people figure out a way to get around it. Any need for reasons why governments fear the internet and cannot control it, see the news in the Middle East for the past 5 years. 

    If you are going to tax the internet, at least use it to improve the internet in our country. The United States clocks in at 8th place globally on internet speeds, we have access issues, and the LTE on most smartphones beats most ethernet connections available. Imagine what opening up more spectrum could do for those speeds, and yet our government consistently steps into worlds it has no idea how to deal with. If our internet tax is going to happen eventually, at least put it towards improving our internet. Don’t put it towards our spending problem.

C.B.

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