back to article Senate passes Marketplace Fairness Act by wide margin

The Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), which will allow states to levy local sales taxes on internet purchases, was passed by the US Senate on Monday night by a vote of 69 to 27, in an unusual display of bipartisan support. "For more than a decade I have been working on a solution to put Main Street retailers and online and out- …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Everyone shall be equally robbed!

    It's fair - because otherwise who will fill the trough we are feeding from?

    MUAHAHAHA, Suckers!

    1. Eddy Ito

      Re: Everyone shall be equally robbed!

      Good one, the one thing it won't be is equal.

  2. gnufrontier

    We'll see

    Everything goes to the Senate first these days. The Senate is somewhat toothless. If a bill can't pass in the House it doesn't mean anything. The Senate debates, the House legislates.

    The House is much more reflective of popular sentiment.

    Besides, as stated in the article, the Senate views it as a states right issue so whatever the Federal government does is irrelevant. States could have passed a sales tax on all internet sales in their state on their own. States didn't have trouble getting their cigarette taxes when people where buying cartons of cigarettes on the internet years ago and avoided paying the high taxes that many states put on tobacco. Cigarette sellers were forced to hand over names and addresses and those who had bought cigarettes over the internet and many found a tax bill in their mail. It looks more to me like state governments are trying to use the "Federalistas" as tax cover and the big box stores are happy to oblige although they also sell over the internet but they have all that real estate they are sitting on.

    As for the all the lost sales tax revenue, I am skeptical that the figure is as high as stated. It's a classic political strategy to paint a situation as more dire than it is.

    But we'll see...

  3. Eddy Ito

    Wha? How's that again?

    "... Main Street retailers and online and out-of-state companies..."

    "... but they should have the right to do so without worrying about federal oversight."

    So he admits up front that this is an interstate commerce issue yet he wants States to not worry about Federal oversight. Well I'm sorry pumpkin, but interstate commerce isn't up to the States and had you read the Constitution you would know that. If you insist on getting involved then you should handle it but you already know that's like sorting a hogshead of horny hagfish so you're going to punt and let the retailers figure it out. It would be far smarter to just say that internet sales will carry X% sales tax for States who choose to charge sales tax and everyone, the State, store and customer will take it and like it. If the States want to change their tax rate to match the interstate rate then good on 'em because simpler taxes hurt nobody but the tax expert industry and it's about time that particular bubble burst.

  4. BornToWin

    They completely missed the point

    Most consumers don't shop online to escaped being raped by state criminals looking to tax everyone even when it's inappropriate or illegal.

    The reason most people purchase online is because of convenience, product choice, information and a hassle free experience. Just as outlawing guns won't stop crime, taxing online sales is not going to help local merchants who do not stock the products consumers desire, who do not provide quality service, who do not sell at competitive prices and who make the purchasing experience unenjoyable at a minimum and frequently more of a real hassle. This new legislation will just exploit consumers even more than they are already being raped by the criminals currently in office.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They'll just go offshore

    Leave the buying of stuff with overnight delivery to Amazon and other US companies - those people are less price sensitive anyway. Have a warehouse in Baja to serve California and the SW, Vancouver to serve the NW, across the Rio Grande for Texas and the south, and in Windsor and Niagara to serve the midwest and northeast.

    A law that lets states collect sales tax on stuff sold to people in other states doesn't do any good if you have a company that's based in Canada, Mexico or maybe even Hong Kong (most of the stuff comes from China in the first place, that might make the best HQ)

    The brick and mortar places still won't be helped, but they'll be hurting Amazon and all the other online retailers in the US who have been helped by giving most customers an automatic 7% or so savings.

    1. Skoorb

      Re: They'll just go offshore

      This is a similar to the solution selling stuff into the EU from just outside the EU, normally from a country with a free trade agreement signed. However, you have to be careful here, as even where NAFTA is in place you still have some items rated for customs duty, and even where items are duty free, some are still liable for customs clearance at the border, slowing things down and increasing costs.

      Shipping things from across the border may help in many cases, but is not a universal panacea.

  6. johnwerneken


    The most negatively productive people in existence are, by definition, those chosen by my fellowcitizens. Why should they get paid? I admit, I used to represent 50,000 of them, and was pleases to improve their wages and especially (*big bucks*) their pensions, every year. But then I tended to tell them, my members, to sit and spin, unless they wanted to help me; if they wanted to help me, well we had a deal to try and help tnhe voters too...when values is up, volume is up, cost is down - all ways of counting - everyone wins, except the competition.

  7. johnwerneken

    So why pay the ones who don't deliver?

    It surely makes those of us who have, do, and will be the ones providing more value than the price charged, just a little annoyed. Escaping the locals is one of the foundation-stones of progress. I do not know about you, but I would not, could I but find a buyer, operate a business in a swamp-gas-for-services jurisdiction. I'd operate where we had the teamwork going on.

    Where I would collect the taxes I had earned the privilege to pay, for generating revenue in that jurisdiction's business environment, I would not argue, nor does the law provide, as far as I know, for my either not paying those taxes over, or not collecting them from the consumer.

    This about customers, folks who will not spend at home, on the local rascals, but they feel they can get equal or better value dealing with say me on the internet. So they might actually pay me. And I have NEVER done business, nor set foot, in their jurisdiction; I may not even know where in the world it is. People preferring to spend their locally earned funds on faraway strangers are making a signal in a way: something local could be better, or at least a bunch of the locals think some local things could be better – they are putting their money elsewhere.

    So how does it help anyone, besides local officials and their patrons, to either pay more for less locally, or more for more on the Internet?

    THINK. A business has expenses and taxes where it operates, and hopefully the benefit is enough that it is indeed a benefit. It’s prices will be higher, because its costs are higher, if it also pays taxes/expenses WHERE IT DOES NO BUSINESS – IT GETS NO BENEFITS.

    This tax is about fairness to local POLITICIANS.

  8. g e

    Got to $900k turnover?

    Start another company before it gets to $1M, put them under a holdings company, transfer profit to that one in one state.

    Sounds like the way forward.

  9. Tom 13

    Why do reporters get away with lies?

    "Technically this legislation simply reapplies taxes that were rescinded..."

    There's no "technically" and no "rescinded" about it. The law which Clinton signed merely codified the 1992 Quill decision from SCOTUS. If a gun toting, bible thumping Republican like me can remember enough about that to Google it and come up with the right case, why can't an SF "liberal"?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    to take a quote from an old song about "equality"

    For they passed a noble law,

    And the trees are all kept equal

    By hatchet, axe, and saw.

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