In the late 1990's and early 2000's a politician proposing an internet sales tax would have been ridden out on a rail. It used to be that lawmakers were scared of the subject. Now even retail associations – some of which represent huge internet companies – say they support the idea. One of those trade groups, the Consumer Electronics Association, has changed sides this week.
CEA has opposed efforts in the U.S. Congress to require Internet sellers to collect sales taxes for years, but the group has "changed its mind" on the topic. Gary Shapiro, CEA's president and CEO, said Tuesday that the group’s opposition to Internet sales taxes was because the internet was "still in its infancy." They now support a unified national collection policy that "applies regardless of whether a product is purchased online or in person will help ensure all retailers — big, small or online — operate fairly and competitively in the marketplace," Shapiro said.
CEA is the first tech trade group to support online sales tax collection. Online retailer Amazon supports tax collection as well. Shapiro also points out that Internet sales tax collection would help state budgets and retain local jobs.
Not everyone thinks having a sales tax for the Internet on a national level is a good idea; trade group NetChoice, whose members including Facebook, Yahoo and eBay, continues to oppose Internet sales tax legislation. Steve DelBianco, NetChoice's executive director, says that online sales tax legislation would clear "the field of small businesses who use the Internet as a last-ditch survival strategy against the overwhelming competition from big-box stores."
But Shapiro thinks that no matter what anyone wants, an Internet sales tax law is "inevitable" within the next few years. CEA does at least say that a sales tax collection system would have to provide exemptions for small businesses, but what they see as a small business might not fit lawmakers' definition…
"It has to happen," he says.
Source: Network World