Online Sales Tax Senate Bill Shouldn't Be That Controversial


With the Internet engulfing our daily lives and online shopping becoming the norm, it's easy to forget about the technological implementations of society's most pesky perk of civilization: taxes. But the Senate hasn't forgotten, as proven by a bill that would place the burden of online sales tax collection on merchants.

Up until now, it was the consumer's responsibility to report and procure taxes on online sales, a standard which, considering I've never done (and you probably haven't either), naturally cost the states millions in revenue.

Even more naturally, many vendors and politicians are skeptic of the bill and its effects. Members of the Senate have complained that it will turn sellers into tax collectors and require them to buy expensive software (like calculators) to estimate the additional tax.

First of all, let me just say, everyone in the non-virtual world is already doing this. Should this even be news, as opposed to just … standard procedure? Yes, the Internet is becoming more and more like the real world: annoying ads, subscription fees, and now taxes. The backlash against this bill really comes from those who would've been against any kind of tax, online or otherwise, but find a more comfortable medium of protest: the bill that's about to get passed.

Never mind the years of already-existing, annually consistent taxation that is already placed on vendors and consumers (and, most important, you, the reader, because you're what matters). For some reason, that shouldn't count on the Internet?

Might I recommend the Amazon route? Last week, the online retail giant finally conceded to online taxation after a series of arduous legal struggles with the government. Long story short, Amazon said, "No taxes or we move!" to the states that taxed them, the states said, "Okay, go ahead," and guess what. Amazon stayed in those states and is now paying taxes. God bless America (?).

It's either that or you fight the futile effort that is tax protesting. After all, the states are undergoing a systematic epidemic of tax evasion; they're going to do what they can to get their money. It's a business, after all.

I could give you some pithy, render-unto-Caesar outlook but I personally don't like taxes, either. I don't think anyone likes taxes. People didn't have bright smiles on their faces a month ago when they filed; it was not a pleasant experience and it's not supposed to be. It's somebody (anybody, Republican or Democrat) demanding a cut of your hard-earned money to use it for something you probably disagree with.

Initial disdain for this new bill is natural. However, these new laws are long overdue as part of an important, existing process in America, and a more mature, long-term outlook is the best way to go. It's not about whether or not to tax; it's about whether or not to collect. The government wants to collect, and it's always easier to tax a seller than a buyer.