Sarasota News Leader

02/15/2013

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OPINION TAXING INTERNET SALES IS CONGRESS��� PROBLEM EDITORIAL The sidestep polka that state and national legislators do whenever taxation is discussed is nothing new. In days of yore ��� and we���re really talking about ���yore��� here ��� the popular refrain in legislatures was, ���Don���t tax you. Don���t tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree.��� In other words, the best tax was one that could be assessed on someone who was not around to protest being taxed. our poor in-state merchants are being driven out of business because Internet merchants have this massive tax advantage to make them more competitive. Of course, despite bricks-and-mortar merchants facing a price differential because of the addition of sales tax to their pricing, few are being driven out of business. But the state Legislature, whose members have never had much of a head for money, is intoxicated by the potential windfall that collecting sales tax on Internet sales represents. And why not? It is a tax on the fellow behind the tree ��� a faceless website that exists somewhere in cyberspace. To a certain extent, the perennial grandstanding in our own Legislature over the ���millions ��� nay, billions of dollars��� in tax revenue being lost to out-of-state merchants is rarely couched in terms of the Florida treasury being The latest effort has taken shape in Senate Bill ripped off by online merchants. No, it almost 316, which is taking the ���fairness��� claim to an always is framed as an issue of fairness ��� extreme by seeking an additional mythic goal:

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