Dec 31, 2013

New Legislation Homing in on Internet Sales

In the opening scene of the 1980 Robert Altman-Robin Williams film “Popeye,” my favorite “sailor man” is seen docking his rowboat in the town of Sweethaven, where he will meet his sidekicks from the 1950s cartoon series: Olive Oyl, Wimpy and, of course, Bluto. At the wharf, Popeye is greeted by the Tax Man, who promptly charges Popeye a 17-cent “new in town” tax, a 45-cent “rowboat under the wharf” tax and a $1 “leaving your junk lying around on the wharf” tax. When Popeye questions the taxes, the Tax Man says, “Is that a question? There’s a nickel question tax.” A crowd of kids gathers to watch what’s going on, and the Tax Man promptly takes off after the kids to collect a nickel each “curiosity tax.”

Popeye’s reaction to all the taxes?

In his own words, “I’ze disgustipated.”

Disgustipated is what I am regarding the debate over taxing Internet sales. This debate has smoldered for years, and it comes before the Senate this week in the form of the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA). The bill will likely pass in the Senate but meet more resistance in the House. By the time this column goes to press, the Act may be a “done deal.” Read More

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