Not a Tax Increase?
2:54 PM, Apr 29, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The mayors of America have blessed the Marketplace Fairness Act, as Tom Cochran, CEO & executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, writes in Real Clear Politics. This, of course, is the legislation that allows states, cities, towns, villages, and wide spots in the road (about 9,600 jurisdictions in all) to collect taxes on things their citizens buy online and obliges the sellers, no matter where they are, to do the tax collecting. So if you live in Chicago and buy a guitar from an online seller in Los Angeles, that enterprise is obliged to add whatever Chicago would have collected if the instrument had been sold by an establishment on State Street and then send the money on to Mayor Emanuel to spend according to his city's needs.
But, the Cochran – being of the political class – quickly falls into equivocations and dissembling, insisting that it is not about the money. It's about fairness.
Of course, the mayors could use the money which, according to Cochran:
Chicago would most likely use the money to prop up the woefully underfunded public sector pensions that have ruined the finances of the city and the state of Illinois but that's only fair.
And, anyway, this is going to be good for everyone:
The measure will, of course, raise prices on goods sold on-line and last anyone checked that did not necessarily stimulate sales. And, then, there are those compliance costs which will depress activity at the small, start-up end of the online spectrum. But Amazon, which backs the bill, will be happy to sell the necessary tools to its smaller brethren. Or absorb their customers.
So ... good for the political class and the big on-line players. Bad for the small operators.
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