February 21, 2010

SUPPORTING STEVE JOBS? California Senate Passes Amazon tax. What’s next? Washington State putting an excise tax on iPods?

Well, no. The email I got suggested that Steve Jobs is smiling about this, and he probably is, but California has been grabbing at this revenue for a while. I realize that some states have tried to come up with clever theories to get around it, but I still think that this is unconstitutional under the Quill case. (Full disclosure: I consulted for the winning side in Quill.) But since California citizens are liable for use tax, why not try to force Amazon to disclose their purchases instead of trying to force Amazon to collect the tax itself? I’m guessing that California politicos don’t want the backlash from mailing a new tax bill to millions of voters in an election year. Which suggests a possible response from Amazon, perhaps . . .

But, really, I think the Internet sales-tax issue is one that should be resolved, if at all, by Congress, which clearly has the power to do so.

UPDATE: Reportedly, Rhode Island’s “Amazon Tax” has killed jobs but produced zero revenue. I wonder how much the politicians care. It seems as much a control thing as a revenue issue, really. They just can’t stand the thought that people aren’t paying tribute.