NPR All Things Considered - Massachusetts tries something new to claim taxes from online sales

Steve DelBianco is on the shameless-tax-grab side. He leads NetChoice, a national trade association representing e-commerce sites. He says under this strange Massachusetts theory, “your business is subject to the taxation [and] regulation in any state where a user simply enters their website address. That can’t hold up to legal scrutiny, because it certainly doesn’t hold up to common sense.”

DelBianco is not convinced a cookie on your computer is the same thing as a storefront in a strip mall. He’s willing to take that argument to court, and says his group is pursuing an injunction to block enforcement of the law before it goes into effect in July.

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WBUR – Mass. Will Collect Sales Taxes On Online Purchases July 1 (If There’s Not A Legal Fight First)

WBUR – Mass. Will Collect Sales Taxes On Online Purchases July 1 (If There’s Not A Legal Fight First)

Steve DelBianco is on the shameless side. He leads NetChoice, a national trade association representing e-commerce and online businesses.

“Massachusetts has this unique theory of electronic presence,” DelBianco said. “But under that theory, your business is subject to the taxation [and] regulation in any state where a user simply enters your website address. That can’t hold up to legal scrutiny, ’cause it certainly doesn’t hold up to common sense.”

For DelBianco, the only option left is a legal challenge to fight the idea that a cookie on your computer is the same thing as a storefront on Newbury Street. He said his group has sued a number of other states for online sales tax laws and he’s looking at a legal fight in Massachusetts too.

“We’re researching the legal arguments and raising the funds to pursue a lawsuit right now,” DelBianco said. He said it’s “too soon to say when we’ll be ready.”

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The regulatory landscape facing ride-share drivers

Technology has given us more freedom to choose the way we work, live, travel, and shop.  But many Americans are hitting bureaucratic roadblocks on their way find full-and part-time work with peer-to-peer services like Lyft, Postmates, and Handy.  These roadblocks are not just bad for workers, but also for consumers, commerce, and the tax revenue that comes with it.

Some of these roadblocks are intentionally created by incumbents trying to prevent competition.  But others are just legacy rules and laws that impede the fast-moving trend of workers moving into more flexible, freelance forms of employment.

READ More at Capitol Weekly

Seattle shouldn’t try to force unions on Uber, Lyft drivers

As a father with two kids and full-time job, I love the fact that I can choose when and where I want to drive for Lyft. But an ordinance in Seattle could change the face of ridesharing as we know it. And not just for the Emerald City, but for the entire nation.

Fellow drivers in Seattle are in danger of losing many of the freedoms that make ridesharing so appealing. Drivers no longer would be able to work when, where and how long they want. They could be forced into legally binding agreement that mandate minimum or maximum working hours and limit their shifts to certain days or set times.

READ More at The Hill

Illinois Legislation Hammers Small Businesses

While attending the University of Chicago, my dad, like many college students, often stopped by his favorite pizza parlor for some choice deep dish pan pizza. Since then, many of the mom and pop pizza parlors he frequented have migrated online to serve a larger customer base and cut down on brick and mortar expenses. But with the impending passage of SB 1502, these Illinois mainstays of the community might be facing burdensome costs that provide no real benefit to them or their customers.

SB 1502 would require the operator of a commercial website or online service to notify customers anytime information about them is collected or disclosed. This information can be for germane purposes and operational maintenance to reasons related to the nature of the website. Read more

Minnesotans Do Not Support Online Marketplace Tax Proposal, New Study from NetChoice and Americans for Tax Reform Finds

Minnesota state legislators’ push to impose unprecedented sales tax obligations on Internet marketplaces has little support from Minnesotans, according to a new poll jointly released by NetChoice and Americans for Tax Reform (ATR).

Only nine percent of Minnesotans think that the current online sales tax collection process needs to change. Yet, leaders of Minnesota’s legislative tax committees continue to promote legislation (HF4 and SF 2225) that would now require out-of-state businesses to collect online sales tax from Minnesotans. Read more

Repealing Colorado’s Tattletale Law: An Opportunity to Restore Coloradans’ Privacy

“Union and Constitution.” These words appear on the Great Seal of Colorado and celebrate the ideals enshrined in the Federal Constitution, including the rights of freedom of expression and privacy.

Sadly, in 2010, the Colorado legislature enacted a tax reporting law that assaults those rights. The aptly nicknamed Colorado “tattletale” law requires online and catalog businesses to report to the state Department of Revenue (DOR) Colorado shoppers’ purchases, including the name of the catalog or online store where the shopper made purchases; the shopper’s name and address; and the amount the shopper spent on products or services.

Thankfully the legislature soon will have the opportunity to restore Colorado residents’ privacy rights later this Spring with SB 17-238, which if passed would repeal the tattletale reporting provision. Read more

Merriweather Memories: Why I support a Ticket Rights Resale Act in MD

I have many fond memories of growing up in my hometown of Columbia MD – several of them are of the times I had with friends and family at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. I remember using the money I earned from delivering the Columbia Flyer to buy tickets to its concerts. I remember my Wilde Lake High School wrestling team providing security for its events. I remember seeing the Symphony of Lights and my high school graduation ceremony at Merriweather.   

To me, these types of experiences are the cornerstone of so many positive memories, which is why I am saddened that companies like Ticketmaster are increasingly using ticket restrictions and inconveniencing fans. 

READ MORE at Center Maryland

Accounting Today - The future of online sales tax: What if they fail to kill Quill?

Steve DelBianco, executive director at NetChoice, said there are three scenarios in a “keep Quill” landscape:

  • States will claim that Quill doesn’t apply to specific taxes, such as Ohio’s commercial activity tax and Washington’s gross receipts tax. In November 2016, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to extend Quill to the state’s business privilege tax. A petition requesting the high court’s review is expected in April.
  • States will continue to enact legislation that aren’t “kill Quill” laws, but are “creative extensions of nexus” to “withstand the physical presence” rule — such as affiliate, click-through and marketplace provider regimes. While those regimes recognize physical presence as the rule, they define physical presence as including a relationship with an in-state entity that has physical presence.
  • States will pursue “tattletale reporting tactics,” such as the Colorado and Louisiana laws that mandate non-collecting remote vendors to report consumers’ purchases to the state.

“Goodlatte’s bill confirms the physical presence standard with specificity, and then goes on to open the door to a multistate compact that allows home state enforcement on remote sales,” DelBianco said, adding that “the beauty of the congressional approach, of either Sensenbrenner or Goodlatte, is they in fact would stop the madness of all these state bills.”

DelBianco noted that Amazon’s business model has led to its expansion into more states to provide faster fulfillment. Likewise, competition over customer service and rapid shipping will encourage other retailers to expand their physical footprint, thus triggering collection obligations in more locations.

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