Opeds

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?

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.

READ MORE

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

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 

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

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

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

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

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

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.”

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?

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

On Surveillance, DOJ Needs to Know When to Fold ‘Em

Our Department of Justice needs to heed Kenny Rogers’ advice in “The Gambler,” and “know when to fold ‘em.” In their pursuit of data on Microsoft’s servers in Ireland, the DOJ is again betting on a bad hand, and they’re not going to bluff their way to a win when the stakes are so high for companies and consumers around the world.

Last week, the DOJ went all-in by petitioning the Second Circuit court for rehearing after losing this summer in court.

READ MORE at Morning Consult

Why is San Francisco trying to strangle its golden goose?

Detroit doesn’t place burdensome regulations on automobile manufacturers; Idaho doesn’t put undue restrictions and hurdles in front of potato farmers; and California takes steps to protect its farmers — because these industries are part of the lifeblood and identity of their respective states.

These industries do more than just create jobs, tax revenue and prestige — they became a symbol of who they are, part of the fabric of the community and the economy.

READ MORE at TechCrunch

Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts

Protecting Internet Freedom: Implications of Ending U.S. Oversight of the Internet

Watch the Hearing Here

Retailers unite! Counter divide-and-conquer tactics on online sales tax

If other states copy a South Dakota law, businesses would face sales tax audits from across the country and costly software changes.

Divide-and-conquer is a tried-and-true strategy to defeat a superior enemy. It works in war and in business, but perhaps nowhere more so than in politics.  When it comes to online sales tax, state tax administrators and legislators managed to divide the retail business community in their drive to gain new tax powers at the expense of consumer choice and small business growth.

READ MORE at Internet Retailer