WSJ-Poll-Front

WSJ readers weigh-in: After seeing both sides, it’s a Landslide

Every once in a while, a rigorous debate will actually sway public opinion.

Yesterday,  the Wall Street Journal published an impressive special section on tech issues that featured arguments from both sides. And it included a debate over new sales tax requirements for online retailers.

As I described yesterday, The Journal also published survey results based on a poll conducted weeks earlier, so there were already over 2,000 votes (60%) for the position that retailers should have to collect sales tax for all states — even where they have no physical presence.

I was initially troubled that the survey results were compiled before readers had a chance to understand both sides of the argument. But then, within one day of seeing both sides presented, the poll results were reversed. Read more

WSJShopingCart

NetChoice debates new online taxes in the Wall Street Journal

Today’s Wall Street Journal features a full-page debate (p.B5) on whether retailers should be forced to collect sales tax for all states — even where the business has no physical presence.

The article includes a debate between Michael Mazerov, who wants force all online sellers to collect taxes for all states, versus my argument in favor of the present national standard established by the Constitution and Supreme Court rulings.

Take a few minutes to compare the arguments.  And if you agree that the physical presence rule is the best way to preserve e-commerce as an opportunity for small businesses, please vote in the WSJ online poll.  (this morning’s printed poll results came over the last several weeks — before this debate was published ). Read more

TaxMan

The Taxman Doth Protest Too Much

It’s a common refrain that those who protest too much might have much to hide.  Wednesday’s introduction of the “Marketplace Equity Act” (MEA) is a prime example of this behavior.  Just like the  Mainstreet Fairness Act before it, the MEA’s name has little to do with its true implications.

At a breathless Capitol Hill press conference, advocates for a new Internet sales tax regime exclaimed the benefits that an ill-defined, expansive and costly regulatory system would have for small businesses.

Not surprisingly, Walmart – a key advocate for online sales taxes and a significant constituent for bill sponsor Rep. Steve Womack (R – Ark.) – ceded the stage to a handful of small business owners who spoke admirably about the creation of a pseudo IRS. Read more

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California Stays the Decimation of California Affiliates

Like all stays of harm, this past week in California was a mixed-bag for California’s small “affiliate advertisers” (websites who host advertisements on their site on behalf of retailers): you breath a sigh of relief but are quickly reminded the delay is temporary.  For California affiliate advertisers, this came in the form of a one-year delay in forcing out-of-state small businesses to collect and remit taxes to California if their only physical presence is through affiliate advertisers.

So what happened and why is this a mixed-bag? Read more

iawful logo building texture

iAWFUL: the 10 Most Awful Laws for the Internet

Today we published our September 2011 “iAWFUL” list of bad Internet laws.  The worst offenders are new burdens on small businesses using the Internet, plus a Puerto Rico bill restricting how 17-year-olds can use social networking.

Our Internet Advocates’ Watchlist For Ugly Laws (yep, iAWFUL is an acronym) is the 10 items of state and federal legislation that pose the greatest threat to the Internet and e-commerce. Read more

sneakingfinal

Odd Timing to Promote ‘Fairness’

Youu can tell a lot about whether a lawmaker is proud of a bill by watching how and when they introduce it. If you’re at a big press conference in the morning, early in the week, with lots of reporters around, you can be pretty sure the lawmaker behind the bill feels pretty good about it.

So what does it say about the so called “Main Street Fairness Act” that Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) chose to slip the measure into the legislative agenda on a Friday afternoon, at the end of July, right in the middle of an apocalyptic congressional battle over the debt ceiling?   Read more

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Maryland’s Attempt To Hunt New Tax Revenue Without Shooting Itself In The Foot

Basic hunting safety has two rules:

1.Know how to handle a gun without hurting yourself, and

2. Ready, Aim, then Fire.

Same rules ought to apply when states go hunting for new tax revenue. Lawmakers first need to understand where potential tax revenue is hiding and how to get it in their sights. Then they create legislation that minimizes collection costs. Read more

PlayerTrade

California, You Don’t Trade Your Star Player for A Couple of Bucks

We see it throughout sports.  The “star player” getting traded for some quick fixes to the team.  But it’s that star player that makes people want to come play – think Kobe Bryant for the Lakers, or Drew Brees for the Saints.  People want to play with the star players.  And the star players are the ones that bring fans to the games and sell the jerseys.

Read more