Today we published our March 2011 “iAWFUL” list of bad Internet laws. We identified a surge in state and federal online privacy legislation that is threatening to tie the hands of online innovators. (iAWFUL was already picked-up in CNET, Politico, The Hill, and Siliconvalley.com)
Sometimes in politics calmer heads and common sense prevail, and red and blue partisans merge into purple. Protecting and encouraging Internet entrepreneurs has been known to move Congress in this way.
Today, a House Resolution offered by Representatives Dan Lungren (R-CA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) will put States on notice that this Congress won’t impose any new tax collection burdens on the nation’s small online businesses.
Their west coast, bi-partisan resolution picks up on a similar resolution by Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) in the last Congress. Rep. Hodes hailed from a small, east coast state with no sales tax, while Reps. Lungren and Lofgren come from California, a state with a high sales tax and a huge budget shortfall. Yet all of them see the risks of forcing new tax collection burdens on the smallest of businesses that use catalogs or websites to serve their customers. Read more
Long-suffering fans of the Chicago Cubs often find themselves needing that last-minute ticket to a ballgame or find themselves looking to unload a couple of tickets. For example, let’s say Bob has family coming to Chicago and needs tickets to the Cubs. Meanwhile, Sam’s son made the soccer finals and Sam can’t use his Cubs tickets. Historically, Sam would waste his tickets and Bob would have to watch from the couch.
All that changed when online auction sites like eBay and StubHub came into the market and began matching-up all the Bobs and Sams of the world. Suddenly, more families were making it to Cubs games while others had more money in their pockets. Read more
In their race to raise taxes for a cash-strapped state government, Illinois legislators are pursuing a mirage that other states have already discovered was a dry and dusty disappointment. Yesterday, the General Assembly approved a version of the “Amazon Tax” that would actually reduce tax revenue while harming Illinoisans who make a living through online advertising.
As in other states, this tax scheme will once again backfire to the detriment of Illinois’ entrepreneurs and state tax coffers. HB 3659 is supposed to force an out-of-state retailer to collect Illinois sales tax if they use in-state ‘affiliates’ – Illinois websites that earn revenue by showing ads for the out-of-state retailer. Read more
A federal judge sided with privacy over taxes yesterday, signaling a victory for consumers in North Carolina. Now we’re waiting to see if this also means victory for consumers and online companies that sell into Colorado.
A U.S. District Court in Seattle blocked North Carolina’s Department of Revenue from compelling Amazon to reveal the names and addresses of its customers so that North Carolina could go after them for not paying use taxes on purchases where they did not pay sales tax. Read more
As readers of this blog know, NetChoice has consistently sounded the warning bell about the huge costs and compliance burdens small online retailers would face if Congress required them to collect sales tax for all states. Thankfully, some members of Congress understand this. But most of the legislators and tax officials on the SST Governing Board do not. Read more
After a quiet August recess in Washington, DC, it’s time to refocus our efforts on public policies that impact online commerce. And today we consider not the good, and not merely the bad, but the awful – iAWFUL.
The Internet Advocates’ Watchlist for Ugly Laws (iAWFUL) tracks the ten instances of state and federal legislation that pose the greatest threat to the Internet and e-commerce. Our efforts so far this year have helped to remove two of the worst offenders from the February 2010 iAWFUL list, including a federal bill giving the Federal Trade Commission more powers to make new rules for online activity without Congressional guidance, and a Maine law restricting online marketing to teenagers. Read more
Congressman Paul Hodes stepped up to the plate for small online retailers, and took a swing at a proposed law that would force new tax collection burdens on even the smallest of businesses who use catalogs or websites to serve their customers.
Hodes’ resolution is titled “Supporting the Preservation of Internet Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses,” and its main provision is:
Congress should not impose any new burdensome or unfair tax collecting requirements on small on-line businesses, which would ultimately hurt the economy and consumers in the United States. Read more
There’s a wise adage that goes “Where you sit determines where you stand.” Keep that in mind when you hear someone advocate a new sales tax collection mandate on small out-of-state retailers.
In a post at BNET last week, Chris Dannen described how big retailers are supporting the so-called “streamlined sales tax”:
“Brick-and-mortar retailers — many of whom have operations online — are some of the most vocal proponents of the new online tax laws. The members of the pro-tax lobby, which includes Best Buy, WalMart ,Target and others, already collect sales tax online, regardless of the buyer’s state, and see Web-only retailers as having an unfair advantage. How to Tax E-Commerce without Killing Entrepreneurship (and eBay)” Read more
It’s April 15, so hopefully nobody’s waiting in long lines at the post office (though we think you should be using the Internet to file electronically). Unfortunately, it’s only April but already it has been a taxing year for online commerce.
We’ve seen six tax-related categories of bills that have been introduced in state legislatures this year: (1) Privacy-invading purchase reporting laws; (2) Bounty hunter bills; (3) affiliate advertising as a nexus for requiring sales tax collection; (4) imposing hotel taxes on online travel companies; (5) expanding Internet sales taxes based on inadequate simplification; and (6) new taxes on digital downloads. Read more
NetChoice is a trade association representing eCommerce businesses and online consumers all of whom share the goal of promoting convenience, choice, and commerce on the Net.
NetChoice engages in federal and state efforts to breakdown the barriers to e-commerce. Whether this involves dealing with taxes on the Internet and goods through the Internet, non-tech neutral privacy initiatives, or other international Internet issues, NetChoice will weigh in to protect the free operation of e-commerce.