Prediction for Cyber Monday: new Amazon taxes won’t help Main Street stores

Today is Cyber Monday, where analysts are busy predicting online sales growth and political types use the day to advance policy  remedies for the so-called “unfair” advantage held by online retailers like Amazon.

Advocates for new Internet sales taxes will cite Cyber Monday sales when claiming to defend Main Street small businesses, or to plug the massive budget holes facing states (see Michelle Quinn’s piece in POLITICO today).     Like most complex policy issues, the truth is far more nuanced and the “fix” won’t be anywhere as beneficial as advocates promise.

Take for example California’s recent deal with Amazon to begin collecting sales taxes for online sales.  Amazon has physical facilities in California and is therefore required to collect taxes under existing law, but tax advocates heralded the deal as a big win for small businesses losing out to online retailers. Read more

Steve DelBianco Speaks on C-SPAN’s The Communicators


Steve DelBianco on CSPAN’s The Communicators to talk about remote-seller sales tax collection.


(Link to video)


(Link to Site)

Awful Internet Laws are Closer Than You Think

Congress may have gone home to campaign, but that hasn’t stopped bad internet bills and regulations from threatening to stifle innovation and limit online choices.

To highlight some of the gravest – and most imminent – legislative and regulatory threats to e-commerce, NetChoice today unveiled a special edition of the Internet Advocates Watchlist for Ugly Laws (iAWFUL).

This latest iAWFUL focuses on measures that pose an imminent threat to the internet in 2012, ones that lawmakers want to jam through legislatures, or rules already in effect and in dire need of repeal and redress. Read more

Steve DelBianco Testifies before Senate Commerce on Remote Seller Tax Collection

Link to Video (DelBianco Testimony Starts at minute 60)

Link to Testimony

Steve DelBianco Testifies before House Judiciary on Remote Seller Tax Collection

Steve DelBianco testified before the full House Judiciary Committee on remote-seller tax collection. (Link to video)


Read Steve’s testimony (Link to Testimony)

Low Quality Equality

As Congress continues to wrestle with the idea of unleashing sales tax collectors across state borders, a lot of buzzwords are recycled. All of them attempt to make a huge and complex tax system look as if it’s benign and beneficial.



 “Main Street”

But nothing could be further from the truth.  In my testimony today before the House Judiciary Committee, I described why proposals like the Marketplace  Equity Act will do far more harm than good and act as a drag on online commerce.

Read more

For online sales taxes, just follow the money

We’ve come to expect all kinds of theatrics during policy debates here in Washington.  Now has taken to the stage with an act that’s all sleight-of-hand and misdirection, telling Congress that small businesses are the real problem when it comes to uncollected sales taxes on e-commerce.

Amazon wants Congress to force any small business with revenue of $150,000 to collect and file sales taxes for states where they have no presence whatsoever, claiming that, “a $150,000 exception would exempt 99% of online sellers from any collection responsibility on remote sales.”

To arrive at their 99 percent trick, Amazon counted even the most casual online seller as numerically equivalent to, well,  By this measure, you need only find 99 people who sold a baseball card through eBay or a dinner plate through Etsy as the statistical counterweight to every large seller like Amazon,, and

A clever trick, especially since counting the number of sellers distracts attention from the uncollected dollars that state tax collectors are really going after.

Read more

CNN on Online Sales Tax Collection


Steve was interviewed on CNN’s Situation Room on online sales tax collection. 

Courts Find Internet Tax Collection Laws Unconstitutional – Sends Tax Collectors Back to Drawing Board

It’s a tough day for state tax collectors when two different judges in two different states declare unlawful their attempts to skirt the constitutional protections in Quill.

It stared with a federal court in Colorado permanently enjoining Colorado law that unfairly discriminated against out-of-state businesses in violation of Article 1 of the US Constitution. Read more

From Slogans to Solutions: Doing the Real Work on Internet Taxes

It’s gonna take more than sloganeering and one-sided arguments to address the enormous challenge of reforming federal and state tax systems. That was the key message coming out of today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing on tax reform, and it’s one that advocates of the so-called “fairness” internet tax would do well to heed.

Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) did a good job of highlighting the insane complexity and uncertainty of current state and federal tax systems.  And Sen. Hatch also quoted a favorite slogan of his, reminding tax reformers to follow the Hippocratic principle, “First, do no harm”.

Internet sales tax proponents have plenty of their own slogans, too, as in “Fairness!” and “Level the Playing Field!”   But their solutions would harm millions of businesses who are using the internet to reach customers around the country, as they struggle to compete with the big-box chains that dominate local retail.  So much for the “fairness” slogan coming from billion-dollar retailers like Walmart and Target. Read more