published Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Amazon, eBay square off over federal Internet tax bill

  • photo
    U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander speaks during a press conference in this file photo.
    Photo by Jenna Walker /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE — E-commerce titans Amazon and eBay are squaring off today over the introduction of federal legislation that would require Internet retailers to begin collecting sales taxes.

Amazon, which is opening giant distribution centers in Hamilton, Bradley and Wilson counties, is backing the bill, which counts U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., among its sponsors.

But eBay is opposed.

Amazon’s vice president for global policy, Paul Misener said in a statement that the company “strongly supports enactment of the Enzi-Durbin-Alexander bill and will work with Congress, retailers, and the states to get this bi-partisan legislation passed.”

In a statement issued by eBay, Tod Cohen, the company’s vice president for government relations and deputy general counsel, called the legislation “another Internet sales tax bill that fails to protect small business retailers using the Internet” and said it “ will unbalance the playing field between giant retailers and small business competitors.

“It does not make sense to expand Internet sales tax burdens on small businesses at a time when we want entrepreneurs to create jobs and economic activity,” Cohen said.

The legislation is supported by the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, a national coalition of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers ranging from Wal-Mart to mom-and-pop operations.

“This is exactly the kind of legislation we need to let everyone compete fairly,” said Donnie Eatherly, owner of P&E Distributors with facilities in both Nashville and Chattanooga. “If we can get this legislation passed, it will, quite literally, save a lot Tennessee businesses.”

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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memphisexile said...

Great idea guys, you are only screwing the consumer. Oh wait, that is us.... Funny how these anti-tax folks seem awfully eager to slap a tax on retailers. Don't they need to have their taxes cut/eliminated to spur business too? I guess Amazon did not donate as much as GE did to these politician's campaigns.

November 9, 2011 at 1:12 p.m.
manlyman said...

Should the tax be collected at the location of sale or the location of purchase? What if I place an online order in one state and have the article shipped to another state? Which state gets the sales tax?

November 9, 2011 at 1:46 p.m.
EaTn said...

Of course these Tn guys are for collecting sales tax, which is the highest regressive tax in the country.

November 9, 2011 at 1:59 p.m.
spangles said...

What people keep forgetting is that regardless of whether an internet retailer charges you sales tax or not, it is still due but is called use tax and that reporting burden is on the consumer. Therefore, as a consumer, I would rather that burden be placed on the retailer during the sale, then for me to have to keep up with it. And to answer manlyman's question, most states require that the tax be charged based on the shipping address.

November 9, 2011 at 3:19 p.m.
xsiveporsche said...

the requirement is that a small business collect tax only on sales inthere own state, some exceptions but basically it. Gee I sell some used car parts on e-bayinstead of sending them to the recycler. I make a few bucks, the guy buying saves big on the parts and we are happy. Now I am going to have to charge him tax. Not worth it to me to have to file the paperwork and handle the money until I have to send it in. What is happening here is the big business wants to make sure that every little guy like me has to collect sales tax on everything they sell. This way all of a sudden it is not as good a deal to buy on line and so you go to Wal-Mart or such to buy. In the long run their sales go up and the little guy goes out of business again. Lets see here, Surrong sound from WALMART, $120 plas tax of 9 1/4% or $131.10. Same product online for $85.00 plus $15 shipping or $100 total. I save $31.10. Add sales tax to it and all of a sudden it goes to $110 or more because now that shipping and handeling charge will go up because they are having to do extra work with reporting sales tax. Before I did not mine waiting a couple of weeks to save 30% now it is not worth it to save 10% so i go to Walmart instead. This is what they are counting on to push this bill thru. Thier business increases and the little guy can not compete and goes out of business and on the unemployment line and becomes homeless because now unemployment goes to 15%. I know this is an extreme example but I think you basically get the idea.The government of course backs it because it means more money for them. That way they can give themselves abnother raise or send it to another country.

November 9, 2011 at 3:48 p.m.
rolando said...

Amazon got wobbly and sucked up to TN; they didn't like the new uneven playing field [for them] and decided to make their competitors bite the big one [like they did] and collect the tax, too.

And to think I backed Amazon in their bid not to collect the tax. Silly me.

Next will be tax collectors at all the swap meets along Hwy the gun and knife all garage sales...etc.

Homeland Security, aka Obama Gestapo, armed with full-automatic silenced assault rifles and Uzis, will no doubt get that particular job. Their motto: [Gif me eure paypuhz und der Photo IDs. Macht schnell!]

At least the liberals might be wonderfully happy and smugly satisfied...for a while.

Hopefully, I will have "shuffled of this mortal coil" before that takes place. [I wonder if they will tax home-grown food for personal use?]

What do you suppose they will do about barter "sales"? Use a huge 40,000 page book detailing the value of everything?

November 9, 2011 at 7:06 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Tax cheats seem to hate this bill.

November 9, 2011 at 10:13 p.m.
xcergy said...

Fairness? Hmmm ... so an online seller now must file 45 tax returns while a B&M only files one? Oh, and that software requirement. How do I know that their software (ASSuming there are 45 different programs) is compatible with my website shopping cart? Can we make this simple please? Have the CC Processors collect and remit Sales Tax [States pay related fees] This system has the lowest cost, no privacy issues, and works for B&Ms as well as online.

November 10, 2011 at 10:35 a.m.
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