Online Sales Should Not Be Tax-Free

By Fletcher, Jeff | Nation's Cities Weekly, February 28, 2000 | Go to article overview

Online Sales Should Not Be Tax-Free


Fletcher, Jeff, Nation's Cities Weekly


Internet Report Calls for Level Playing Field

"All remote sales should be taxed just like brick-and-mortar sales."

That's the conclusion of a new report by Forrester Research, Inc., one of the nation's leading Internet and e-commerce research companies. The short Forrester Brief, "Internet Sales Taxes Don't Need a Tea Party," was written by Steven J. Kafka.

Issued just weeks before the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce holds its final meeting and as the e-commerce sales tax issue becomes increasingly embroiled in both Congressional and presidential politics, the report says: "The buyer's physical location at the tune he or she takes possession of the goods should determine sales tax liability."

The report's conclusions are:

* New technologies make sales taxes easy to collect. Several vendors already can calculate and collect taxes across many jurisdictions, the study says, and new Internet applications will make such calculations easier, cheaper and more seamless in the future.

* Tax avoidance is not why people shop online. "Consumers shop online today for many reasons including convenience, selection and added services--but avoiding taxes is not at the top of the list," the report says. Since shopping channel distinctions are disappearing, Forrester says that sales taxes should be treated equally in all channels to prevent confusion, complexity and inequity.

* State and local governments won't give up on essential sales tax revenues that are needed to meet citizen needs. …

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