Every time Congress has taken a serious look at proposals to boost Internet sales taxes, it has rejected them. That’s probably why pro-tax Senators are trying to rush through an online tax hike with as little consideration as possible.
As early as Monday, the Senate will vote on a bill that was introduced only last Tuesday. The text of this legislation, which would fundamentally change interstate commerce, only became available on the Library of Congress website over the weekend. And you thought ObamaCare was jammed through Nancy Pelosi‘s Democratic House in a hurry.
. . .
Mr. Enzi’s Marketplace Fairness Act discriminates against Internet-based businesses by imposing burdens that it does not apply to brick-and-mortar companies. For the first time, online merchants would be forced to collect sales taxes for all of America’s estimated 9,600 state and local taxing authorities.
New Hampshire, for example, has no sales tax, but a Granite State Web merchant would be forced to collect and remit sales taxes to all the governments that do. Small online sellers will therefore have to comply with tax laws created by distant governments in which they have no representation, and in places where they consume no local services.
. . .
The drivers of this rush to tax are Wal-Mart and other big retailers that can more easily absorb the costs of collection than can smaller competitors. Also supporting the bill is Internet giant Amazon, which coincidentally now sells its own tax compliance service to other merchants. Adding to the lobbying muscle are state and local governments. The politicians believe they’ll collect tens of billions of dollars in taxes that are already owed by shoppers on remote sales but rarely paid.
So big business and big government are uniting to pursue their mutual interest in sticking it to the little guy. Any Internet seller with more than $1 million in annual sales would be forced to serve all of the nation’s tax collectors.
Which is pretty much what Adam Smith predicted in Wealth of Nations. I’m sure that the taxing agencies will collect more tax dollars, but at the expense of driving small internet based businesses out of business. I wonder if the added cost of government support for bankrupt business owners and employees is more or less than the projected increase in tax revenues, never mind the actual increase in revenues.