Democrats push for new Internet sales taxes
by Declan McCullagh
The halcyon days of tax-free Internet shopping will, if Rep. Bill Delahunt gets his way, soon be coming to an abrupt end.
Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat, introduced a bill on Thursday that would rewrite the ground rules for Internet and mail order sales by eliminating the option for many Americans to shop over the Internet without paying state sales taxes.
At the moment, Americans who shop over the Internet from out-of-state vendors usually aren’t required to pay sales taxes. Californians buying books from Amazon.com or cameras from Manhattan’s B&H Photo, for example, won’t be required to cough up the sales taxes that they would if shopping at a local mall.
This is hardly a new debate: pro-tax officials and state governments have been pressing Congress to require taxes to be collected for a decade or so. They argue that reduced sales tax revenue threatens budgets for schools and police, and say that, as a matter of fairness, online retailers should be forced to collect the same taxes that brick-and-mortar retailers do.
But with states scrambling for new sources of revenue during what may be a double-dip recession, pro-tax lobbyists are hoping that they’ll have better luck this year. The National Conference of State Legislatures applauded Delahunt’s legislation, saying he should be commended for allowing states to collect as much as $23 billion in new taxes.