Those bundle of Alf DVDs or Choose Your Adventure books you love to buy from Amazon in bulk may soon cost you more thanks to a new bill in the U.S. Senate. The bill would empower states' abilities to force Internet retailers to collect state and local taxes on purchases made via the web. Right now, states can only do such a thing if that retailer has a physical presence in that state. But the bill has a majority support in the Senate - which voted by a 3-to-1 ratio to take up the bill - and from the White House who sees those tax dollars as money that can be spent towards things like education and police funding.
Opponents of the bill insist there are enough guidelines to protect small businesses (businesses that bring in less than $1 million in revenue in less than a year are exempt) and the bill faces stiffer competition in the House where some Republicans see this as yet another dreaded tax increase. It's also pitting online entities against each other, with eBay opposing the bill but Amazon in full support of it.
Our own Sen. Durbin points out the ease with which businesses would be able to comply.
States must provide free computer software to help retailers calculate sales taxes, based on where shoppers live. States must also establish a single entity to receive Internet sales tax revenue, so retailers don't have to send them to individual counties or cities.
"We're way beyond the quill pen and ledger days," Durbin said. "Thanks to computers and thanks to software it is not that complex."
Start setting aside extra cash, though, just in case the bill passes. This is Illinois, after all.
AP Photo/Reno Gazette-Journal, Andy Barron