Every time I read the word “fairness,” especially in the titles of legislation, I know two things: 1) It ain’t; 2) Someone’s going to get wronged. I refer, of course, to the congressional call for legislation to tax Internet purchases in the name of “fairness.”
There are serious moral difficulties with the idea. In the antediluvian times I was educated, we learned about a recent dust-up between Americans and King George III. Problem was, although colonists were expected to pay their taxes, they had no say in how they were levied or spent. I think it was called ‘taxation without representation,” and it was considered a big enough no-no to go to national-level feuding with the Brits. I have to ask: Although they will be paying Georgia taxes, who will be representing Amazon, et al., in Atlanta?
The second idea that troubles me is that, at least in theory (though rare in practice), the justification for taxes is the benefit the government returns to the taxed – police, fire, health, roads, etc. Precisely what does Amazon, et al., get in return for their tribute, other than the joy of pouring their dollars into a bottomless pit of political largesse?
Businesses want the government to level the playing field by forcing Internet competition to charge more. I have a novel solution for local business: Charge lower prices. The Internet is taking their business? Why? They charge less, so the suckers – oops, customers – can’t get their money’s worth elsewhere. Internet businesses seem to charge much less, yet stay in business. Hmmm. Is it the sales taxes?
Anyone who’s bought anything online knows there always is shipping, and FedEx and UPS aren’t cheap. Even when the Internet store has “free shipping,” it isn’t free to the dealer. And still they’re undercutting local businesses? Someone’s business model needs a reappraisal. (Hint: It’s not the Internet.)
Understand clearly: Supporting the idea of taxing Internet sales is directly voting for another tax increase, disguised as “fairness.” The real purpose of this bill is to protect retailers from fair competition for consumer dollars. Sadly, politicians will never go against a solution that brings in money without effort – other than cashing the checks.
Dave Stewart Sr.