Taxing E-Commerce

A recent NY Times editorial re-visits the old debate about states collecting sales taxes on “online retail transactions”. Every time I hear about taxing “Internet sales”, I wonder why they seem to fixate on the Internet as opposed to any other form of “remote shopping”. It’s true that the internet has driven an increase in shopping from home, but if you’re going to write a new law, make it fair. If I order merchandise from out-of-state and have it shipped to me, it should be taxed (or not taxed) equally, regardless of whether I order it via the Internet, telephone, mail, fax, or carrier pigeon. Maybe the legislation being considered actually does that, but whenever people talk about it, they just talk about “internet sales” as if mail-order shopping never existed until Al Gore invented the internet.

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