Sales tax threat stalks online mail-order empires, but will it really hurt them?

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  • Joan Watson TWIN FALLS, ID
    April 26, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    Frankly from one consumers point of view - it was surly nice to have free from tax on something - hopelessly rare if not impossible in todays economic world.

  • The Taxman Los Angeles, CA
    April 25, 2013 5:16 p.m.

    Aside from hindering our economic recovery by making goods more expensive (and depressing demand) while we are crawling out of a recession, won't this law just drive Internet retailers over the borders to Mexico and Canada (where they can ship into the U.S. without collecting tax [states don't have the authority to tax international entities without a US location]) and thereby export more US jobs offshore?

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    April 25, 2013 9:21 a.m.

    This is a simple process in the computer or device programming world. It is a pass-through item and it is only fair. The online seller doesn't have a big administration cost but they will be audited by the federal and state governments, as required. The custom rules have already applied and the overseas taxes may come into play more. However, duties and custom fees have been around and collected forever.

    States are short money to pay for administrative increases, it is only appropriate that the history books account for all the things that the Nobel Peace Prize winner has done, good and bad. He hasn't done a budget but he keeps on assessing more money to pay for things he doesn't know what he planned on spending. It won't cost a dime more. He hasn't spent a dime in 5 years of his own money. He has outstanding healthcare and benefits. How many in Central District can afford to go pick up people in Region 12 on a specially built 747 with a crew and fleet of aircraft and vehicles and take them to the Central district to watch the games or be a participant.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    April 25, 2013 8:08 a.m.


    Article 1 section 9 of the US Constitution specifically states: "No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State."

    For it to come in to Utah, it has to be exported from another state, so Utah's use tax is unconstitutional. If a Utah retailer sells on line to a Utah resident, they should already be collecting the tax.

  • Willybee71 GARDEN CITY, NY
    April 25, 2013 7:28 a.m.

    Agree with Wohlsen. Amazon could wipe out WalMart and not much hurt my feelings. But it would really benefit small communities and their family-run businesses if they could implement some sorta business model that partners with local small businesses. Perhaps one way to start would be to supply computer-shopping terminals at Shipping places like Post Offices/UPS Stores and "Wrap-and-Pack"-type joints.....Pick up, buy new, and return un-needed, during the same trip to the same place. Kinda like Sears and JC.Penney's "Catalog Stores" were, except that UPS/USPS home-delivery option.
    Hey, like serve coffee an' cookies, andja could yak wit your neighbors on comfy couches while you shop on-line while waitin' for the thrice-daily trucks to show up, six and seven-days a week.
    Give Stars___s a run for their over-abundant money.

  • wer South Jordan, UT
    April 24, 2013 10:29 p.m.

    According to directions in my 2012 state tax returns, Utahns are supposed to pay 3% of purchase price for items bought outside the state and delivered here.

    Sure seems like we already have a tax on internet sales.

  • Brer Rabbit Spanish Fork, UT
    April 24, 2013 8:34 p.m.

    I would rather that the state and local governments get the sales tax, before the federal government figures a way to get it. By the way in Utah property taxes pay only part of public education. Most of the money for public education comes from the state income tax, which is dedicated totally for education. Keeping track of where to send the taxes collected shouldn't be much trouble, since that is what computers do. Most of the road work is paid for by the fuel tax, which is shared by communities. When you think about it we have a lot of different taxes.

    April 24, 2013 7:23 p.m.

    I monitor prices on things I want to purchase that cost more than $40 and I don't need right away. Sometimes it is cheaper to purchase locally, sometimes cheaper online. Low cost is often the main driver of our purchases.

    Online taxes just means my family will spend less money overall and we have a reasonably large amount of discretionary income. So, while the many government entities will collect more taxes, I think it will not be as much as they expect and the ratio of our online purchases vs brick & mortar purchases likely won't change.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 24, 2013 6:58 p.m.

    Taxes are levied to pay the cost of the duties that we assign to government. What cost is incurred by your city or State when an out-of-state company sells you something? How many policemen are required to guard an non-existent store? What services are provided by your city or State to that business?

    Sales Tax has become a "money grab" instead of payment for services rendered. Every American should be incensed that government would tax an entity whose employees and owners cannot vote on those taxes. Didn't we fight a war with England for that very thing?

  • Jeremiah D Seattle, WA
    April 24, 2013 6:24 p.m.

    Sales tax is defined as a tax on the purchaser, and it is only the seller's responsibility to collect the tax on behalf of the purchaser, unless it is an out-of-state entity, in which case it is the responsibility of the purchaser to pay the sales tax to the state, at least that's how it is in Utah. That means requiring online stores to collect sales tax is not adding more tax, but simply shifting the burden of collecting existing taxes from the state onto retailers. Bad for online retailers, yes, but not a new tax.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    April 24, 2013 5:57 p.m.

    Brick and mortar stores have a huge advantage over online businesses.
    1. I don't have to wait for my merchandise.
    2. I can see it and hold it before I buy.
    3. I don't have to pay for shipping (many times about the same as sales taxes).
    4. If it becomes necessary to return something I don't have to pay shipping.
    5. I can try the clothes on before I buy.

    There are two reasons that I buy online:

    1. I can't find what I want locally.
    2. Local stores are price gouging. (I can find it for much less online.)

    Finally: Article 1 section 9 of the US Constitution specifically states: "No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State."

    It is unconstitutional but congress does not care.

  • BH Tremonton, UT
    April 24, 2013 5:14 p.m.

    Collecting tax for mail-order purchases seems so unjust. Typically, taxation directly supports those who are taxed. Gas tax buids and maintains roads. Property tax pays for school systems and community functions. When local brick and mortar stores pay taxes, among other things, it provides infrastructure for those businesses.

    This tax seems to be nothing more than an opportunity to capture more revenue for the states. If a business has no presence in the state, then they need no support from that state.

    I am very disappointed in this movement. It's just taxation. Nothing more.

  • bikeboy Boise, ID
    April 24, 2013 4:57 p.m.

    I like the previous comments, for the most part.

    Collecting sales taxes won't be nearly as harmful to the behemoth online retailers like Amazon, as it will to the "niche" mom-and-pop retailers who sell only camping supplies, or soccer gear, or Grecian pottery. Suddenly they'll have the overhead of determining what tax jurisdiction each customer is in, collecting the proper sales tax, and sending it on to that jurisdiction(s).

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    April 24, 2013 4:45 p.m.

    To lost in DC:

    The same premise applies to state government as to the federal government. There has been much talk of the federal government wanting a national sales tax to boost their revenues. If this sales tax bill becomes law, the federal government will be that much closer to instigating such a sales tax of their own. With all it's red ink, don't bet against it.

    Neither level of government seldom meets a tax they won't jump at and try to implement. History indicates as much. The rate of growth of almost every state government in our country has been faster than population growth and inflation combined... over the past 2 decades. That's because 1) new revenue sources are constantly being found, and 2) many state governments are now heavy in debt, similar to our federal government... even though states can't print their own money in an attempt to cover their ineptness.

    So yes, whether it's at the federal or state government level, there is a problem with too much spending and too much taxation. It doesn't take much objective research to discover that it's getting worse and further out of hand.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    April 24, 2013 4:46 p.m.

    I watched some of the debate on C-Span and I was alarmed at he number of Republicans that were speaking in favor of this tax. Of course they say some former governors of our pretty, great state never met a tax they didn't like.

    No, in answer to the head-line, sales taxes won't hurt the on-lime sellers if you discount their cost of collecting, recording and remitting the taxes (and howe exactly can they do that for free when the buyers are from "everywhere" so they have to send the collected sales tax money to "everywhere") but it will help those who depend upon the government for their paycheck. Even local governments can't balance their budgets because every new mayor wants a building or two with his name on the plaque by the front door.

    The one it will hurt is the american consumer who just saw prices increase that one buys using their computer, where they already paid sales tax on the hardware and software and monthly taxes on their internet connection fees.

    Government just can't collect enough's impossible to satisfy them at any level.

  • Evets Eagle Mountain, UT
    April 24, 2013 4:31 p.m.

    Of course Amazon is for the Sales tax bill. For the average business to administer paying taxes to various states with differing laws is very difficult. Amazon has been working on this for some time and has developed software and services it will offer and sell to other businesses. Amazon stands to make a lot of money off this.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    April 24, 2013 3:55 p.m.

    the article is talking about collecting state and local taxes, not federal. So while I agree with you that BO is a horrible fiscal nightmare, your comment appears to be a little off-topic.

    I would have a hard time agreeing that a bill that gets 75 votes in the senate was rammed through. Perhaps it went through with little debate because there was general agreement, so that part of your statement could be true.

  • DN Subscriber 2 SLC, UT
    April 24, 2013 3:39 p.m.

    If brick and mortar stores cannot compete, then they will go out of business in the modern market place.

    Seen any buggy-whip or horse shoeing shops lately? (Or, even a Navy shipyard?) How about bookstores or VHS movie rental places? It is not the job of government to protect a certain type of business, even if there are a lot of them struggling to remain profitable.

    Any "threshold" which excludes businesses with revenues under a certain amount is political trickery. The threshold will be incrementally cut until it applies to everyone.

    Finally, the sheer volume of busy work needed to comply, even with software (which may or may not be compatible with your other business software) to calculate tax on a widget sale under the buyer's state and local laws and rates will be a huge burden.

    Then there is the hassle of setting up a way to send pennies to a few dollars to a few hundred dollars to every state (let along local) government involved, and keeping the paperwork to explain it all.

    Every minute spent on administrivia like this is time taken away from growing a business, or just making enough to feed your family.

  • 1conservative WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    April 24, 2013 3:30 p.m.

    First of all: the various government agencies that will reap the rewards of internet sales taxes don't need more revenue - they just need to use what they have more wisely.

    second - this bill was rammed through with very little debate. (the senators thought we had our attention diverted with the Boston bombing and the gun control issue)

    When I buy something online, there's a tradeoff - pay for shipping on the online product, or pay local sales tax. If the goal is to get cars off the road by driving around town trying to find the item they want, wouldn't it be better to ENCOURAGE online shopping?

    The whole "online sales tax" issue is simply another way for government to take more money from us. It has very little to do with "fair" competition between retail brick and mortar stores and online shopping.

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    April 24, 2013 3:15 p.m.

    Governments are usually known as tax-and-spend entities... especially the current federal administration which has us drowning in red ink while giving out record numbers of entitlements.
    If the current direction the government is headed is any indication, it will never cease to try to find more and more ways to get more and more money from taxpayers. Sad, but true.
    This is just the next step in an ongoing process toward that hated word "socialism". More to come. You could bet your life on it.