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Colorado should rethink its tattletale tax reporting law

There is a lot of talk in the state Legislature these days about taxes — from tax hikes on marijuana and new taxes for improved transportation to reduced taxes on business personal property and even eliminating taxes on some personal hygiene products.

However, lawmakers may want to add one more tax-related issue to this robust debate — a re-examination of rules that would make the Department of Revenue privy to the personal online shopping habits of Coloradans.

Six years ago, state lawmakers addressed the internet sales tax issue through legislation. It was a fatally flawed law, aimed at increasing collection of sales and use taxes for purchases made online or through catalogs. Lurking in that bill was a dangerous intrusion into the private lives of Colorado citizens.

Read More at the Colorado Statesman

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Hoosier Internet sales tax bill is ill advised

The U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent protect Indiana’s businesses from the scourge of Chicago and New York tax collectors.

Today, Indiana businesses, whether selling online, over the phone or via catalog, only must collect sales taxes for purchases to Indiana consumers. The businesses only must file taxes with the Indiana tax collectors and face audits from Indiana auditors.

As a result, Indiana’s main street businesses, such as Burton’s Maple Syrup in Medora, easily can use the Internet to reach customers across the country.

But it appears some lawmakers in Indianapolis are prepared to upend these protections and expose Indiana businesses to tax collectors from across the country.

Read more at Northwest Indiana Times 

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Tattletale Tax Reporting Law Violates Consumer Privacy, Coloradans Say

Overwhelming Majority Say State Should Not Be Collecting Personal Information on Shopping Habits, NetChoice Survey Finds

An overwhelming majority of Coloradans believe a state law forcing online and catalog businesses to report personal purchase information to state tax authorities is an invasion of privacy, per a new NetChoice survey of Colorado residents.* Residents also view the law’s misguided aim to collect sales and use taxes as a statewide tax increase.

Fully 78 percent of Coloradans said the state should not be allowed to force businesses to turn over information on their internet purchases, including the retailer’s name, the customer’s name, the billing address, the shipping address, and the amount of purchases. Read more

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Don’t let ticket companies take a fundamental freedom in Virginia

Twenty-five years ago, Seinfeld warned us of the dangers of double-dipping. However, double-dipping is not relegated only to hors d’oeuvres and sitcoms. In the real world, Ticketmaster has perfected the double dip, reaping billions of dollars by managing events and selling tickets on the primary market.

For years, Ticketmaster has dipped into the revenues of bands and other acts via its Live Nation Entertainment Group and then dipped into the discretionary income of consumers, charging fees per ticket sale on the primary market.

Now, the company has its sights set on a new challenge: the triple dip.

READ MORE at the Washington Post

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Ohlhausen should direct FTC to focus on real harms to privacy

When was the last time you read a privacy policy? I mean actually read it, not just clicked “I agree”?

The FTC has said time and time again that “consumers don’t read privacy policies.”  They’ve been doing this for nearly a decade. In 2007, then-Federal Trade Commissioner Jon Leibowitz declared that “in many cases, consumers don’t notice, read, or understand the privacy policies.” Likewise, study after study has substantiated this fact.

Of course, it doesn’t take an FTC chairman, or a researcher to tell us this, we all know that we rarely, if ever, read the privacy policies we’re presented.

READ MORE at The Hill

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Op-ed: We now collect enough internet sales taxes to cut the tax rate

By Jonathan Johnson, Chairman of the Board of Overstock.com

Utah’s Gov. Gary Herbert and other internet tax proponents proclaim Utah’s uncollected e-commerce sales tax has reached $200 million a year. It’s a large number. And it’s largely wrong.

Supposedly, the shortfall results from out-of-state e-commerce retailers not collecting Utah sales taxes. But is $200 million the number right? It doesn’t seem to add up.

Here’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation of all 2016 e-commerce sales taxes due in Utah:

• The 2016 total U.S. retail e-commerce is $392 billion (estimates from Internet Retailer and eMarketer).

• Utah’s e-commerce visit share is 0.84 percent, based on the assumption e-commerce sales are proportionate to visits (Source: Hitwise and Connexity); coincidentally, that figure approximates Utah’s population proportion of about 0.9 percent.

• The average Utah sales tax rate is 6.53 percent (https://www.salestaxhandbook.com/utah).

• Therefore, Utah’s total e-commerce sales tax due — collected or not — would be $215 million: ($392 billion x .0084) x 0.0653 = $215 million.

If this calculation is correct, then either Utah is not collecting more than 90 percent of its e-commerce sales taxes, or the governor’s $200 million figure is wrong

READ MORE at Salt Lake Tribune

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State Tax Notes Names NetChoice as Organization of the Year

This week State Tax Notes named NetChoice and NCSL as “Organizations of the Year.”

In a world in which federal and state officials are debating ways to regulate and tax online commerce, NetChoice is at the forefront of the loyal opposition.

State Tax Notes recognizes NetChoice for its role in fighting proposals that fly in the face of its goal of “promoting convenience, choice and commerce on the net.

In the state remote sales tax arena, NetChoice moved quickly to sue South Dakota even before S.B. 106, the state’s remote sales tax bill, took effect May 1. On April 29 NetChoice joined the American Catalog Mailers Association to sue the state on the basis that S.B. 106 is facially unconstitutional.

NetChoice has been a consistent presence on the remote sales tax issue. It has fought diligently against efforts to pass legislation such as the Marketplace Fairness Act, a proposed federal law that would allow states to require remote sellers to collect and remit sales tax. Read more

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NetChoice Applauds Introduction of Email Privacy Act

The Email Privacy Act (HR 387) would extend privacy protections to all electronic content, fixing a legacy flaw in our law that give little protection to emails over 6 months old. 

The bi-partisan Email Privacy Act (HR 387) brings common-sense legal privacy protections to all our electronic content.  Today, our privacy in electronic communication is protected by a 30-year-old law that is decades out of date.  The Act brings the 30-year-old ECPA law into the 21st Century,” said NetChoice Senior Policy Counsel Carl Szabo.

“We look forward to working with Congress in advancing this bill to benefit all Americans.”

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Steve DelBianco speaks with Small Business Radio

Part 1: We’re losing the battle for online taxes and consumer privacy

Part 2: The ongoing war for privacy and security in the cloud

Part 3: How much online freedom did you lose in 2016?

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The Lame Duck Is No Time to Cripple Internet Commerce

Online and catalog retailers around the country have made it clear to Congress that a radical remote sales tax mandate would cause severe hardships for their businesses and consumers across the United States.

As we enter the “lame duck,” the post-election session of this Congress, we are likely to see an effort to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act, even though this bill has not been on the floor of the House or Senate and has never even had a committee hearing. Our leaders in Congress should resist any effort to move MFA in the lame duck or attach it to must-pass legislation.

READ MORE at Morning Consult