Amazon.com and eBay Take Their Online Sales Tax Fight to Washington

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You remember the Flap which was sort of resolved in California a few months ago.

Now, the conflict is being staged in Washington and in the Congress.

A Capitol Hill clash between Amazon.com and eBay complicates California’s hopes for an online sales-tax fix.

The fight flared Wednesday, underscoring how big differences between the Internet sales giants stand in the way of congressional efforts to help California and other states collect hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.

Each side has its respective political champions, and each side wants small businesses exempt from the burdens of collecting state taxes for online sales. They diverge sharply, though, over what “small” means.

“We want to stand with the little guys,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, noted at a hearing Wednesday in the House of Representatives, “and the difficulty is, who is that?”

The Seattle-based Amazon wants a much more limited small-business exemption than eBay, which is based in Lofgren’s hometown. So long as the companies remain apart, they can’t put their combined weight behind an online sales-tax bill, versions of which have been floating around Congress for years.

The differences and the delays matter because the clock is ticking, particularly in California.

As I have said before, I don’t really think the various online retailers will be able to work out any legislative compromise particularly going into an election year. There really needs to be a national solution to the collection of state sales taxes for online businesses, but I do not foresee it anytime soon.

The federal courts may eventually decide the issue, but this will take many years and lots of expensive litigation.

States drool with anticipation of receiving a piece of the online sales tax pie, but to capture tax revenue from customers of companies that do not have a physical presence in their state, they will have to wait.

Is this fair?

I suppose it depends upon your business interests and your own TURF.

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  1. […] Now, Amazon.com has taken the fight to Washington – as I wrote about earlier this year. […]

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