Sarasota News Leader

02/15/2013

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Sarasota News Leader February 15, 2013 OPINION Page 64 remitting to them their pro rata share of the Unfortunately, no one has been able to ascertain the amount of public funds that are squanInternet sales tax collected. dered each year by the 50 states in their conThe states would not receive as much tax stant striving for this tax they have no power revenue as they might if their full tax rates to impose. If they took even a fraction of that were assessed, but they also would not need money and invested it in lobbying Congress to keep track of the tax. It would be a national to pass a flat sales tax on Internet sales, they assessment collected by Internet merchants likely would succeed. on behalf of the 50 states. Perhaps the time has come for the states to try The bricks-and-mortar merchants in each such a unified approach. They have worked state would feel less competitive pressure together for a common goal before, such as from online merchants. And a complex net- the settlement with the major tobacco comwork of tax rates and regulations would not panies, which pours billions of dollars into burden mom-and-pop merchants who also states��� healthcare budgets each year. sold online. Since Florida had little trouble enlisting many Since Internet retail sales in the United States states to join it in opposing the Affordable Care Act, it surely could enlist those same alare estimated to exceed $200 billion, the 50 lies in a drive to get Congress to pass a nationstates would be divvying up $8 billion or more al online sales tax. each year. And if a state wanted to use that windfall to reduce the tax burden of in-state We can think of at least 8 billion reasons to give it a try. % merchants, that would be its choice. ������������, ����������! (FAREWELL, KABUL!) By David Staats Columnist COMMENTARY Today is the anniversary of the 1989 withdrawal of the last Soviet troops from Afghanistan after nine years of war during which an estimated 14,500 Soviet troops were killed. istan, leaving behind a force of about 8,000 by the conclusion in 2014 of NATO���s mission. The human cost so far: 2,177 Americans killed. By 2017, the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is projected to be 1,000. These projections assume the acceptance of a status of forces The United States is preparing to withdraw agreement by the Karzai government that by most of its remaining 66,000 troops in Afghan- no means is guaranteed.

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