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(USA Today)   Federal judge says North Carolina can't make Amazon tell anybody about that Sarah Palin autobiography you ordered   (usatoday.com) divider line 64
    More: Interesting, Amazon, North Carolina, federal judges, Tax Foundation, Raleigh, tax collections  
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10508 clicks; posted to Main » on 26 Oct 2010 at 4:09 PM (4 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2010-10-26 03:10:15 PM  
This is less about free speech and more about states trying to cover budget shortfalls through online sales.
 
2010-10-26 04:01:31 PM  
UNC_Samurai: This is less about free speech and more about states trying to cover budget shortfalls through online sales.

Right but I think the way they went about it made it a free speech issue.
 
2010-10-26 04:11:46 PM  
tallguywithglasseson: UNC_Samurai: This is less about free speech and more about states trying to cover budget shortfalls through online sales.

Right but I think the way they went about it made it a free speech issue.


The court seems to feel that way.
 
2010-10-26 04:15:17 PM  
I just wanted to rub one out to the glossy eight-page picture section in the middle...

/that Todd, he's dreamy!
 
2010-10-26 04:16:49 PM  
Phewf. I bought a whole bunch of copies as gifts for Farkers.
 
2010-10-26 04:17:44 PM  
The ACLU is right that the state has no business knowing what it is that you buy, only how much you bought for taxation purposes. The lawsuit only covers books and media, but I'd argue that it should cover all purchases.

Trying to collect taxes on previous year's sales before the laws were passed is absurd. It is just another desperate attempt from the states to collect money from any source even remotely possible. But that is a different issue.
 
2010-10-26 04:17:49 PM  
ah North Carolina, how I love being your resident
 
2010-10-26 04:18:33 PM  
Would anyone have a problem if amazon told them how much a person spent, without saying what it was? Seems like that would solve the problem.

/pays my NC use tax every year
// figure they need the $46. I like paved roads
 
2010-10-26 04:18:37 PM  
davidphogan: tallguywithglasseson: UNC_Samurai: This is less about free speech and more about states trying to cover budget shortfalls through online sales.

Right but I think the way they went about it made it a free speech issue.

The court seems to feel that way.


It's a legitimate argument, too, particularly in view of some of the things the government did during the McCarthy era... Oh, you've read Mein Kampf? And a chemistry textbook? Terrorist! Just replace anti-communist fervor with anti-Muslim fervor, and I could certainly see (a) the FBI wanting to know who bought a copy of the Qu'ran, a chemistry text, and a "learn to fly planes" book; and (b) lots of Teabagger-Americans defending the FBI for searching for that info.
 
2010-10-26 04:18:59 PM  
Let's see how many people in this thread complain about the ACLU's involvement. After all they are a communist organization and want everyone to pay as much tax as poss.... wait, they are against it?

b..b...but
 
2010-10-26 04:20:42 PM  
Last year, state legislators passed a law making Amazon responsible for collecting sales taxes because it had a network of local affiliates - North Carolina residents who linked to products on their blogs, promoted Web shopping deals and offered coupons.

Damn, people posted their site on their blog. Doesn't get much bigger than that in the business world.I guess I can't oppose states ravenously demanding randomly calculated amounts of alleged back taxes when people in their state posted Amazon links on their blog.
 
2010-10-26 04:20:42 PM  
austin_millbarge: After all they are a communist organization and want everyone to pay as much tax as poss.... wait, they are against it?

Your "bu...bu..." is premature:
"The ACLU is not taking issue with the department's authority to collect taxes on these purchases..." said Katy Parker, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation.
 
2010-10-26 04:21:01 PM  
I hear the best way to remove a leech is to use fire.
 
2010-10-26 04:21:22 PM  
As an NC resident who made purchases on Amazon today, I'm totally getting a kick out of these replies.
 
2010-10-26 04:22:18 PM  
Amazon doesn't even have the money because no one voluntarily paid tax. Big WAT all around here.
 
2010-10-26 04:22:58 PM  
vgss: Amazon doesn't even have the money because no one voluntarily paid tax. Big WAT all around here.

"Willingly-Added Tax"?
 
2010-10-26 04:23:46 PM  
there's never just the one goal, where the government is concerned. there's ALWAYS ulterior motives in play.

also, to people who rag on tax cuts, here is an obvious case where a company is trying very hard to minimize their tax burden, and they're willing to stop doing business with distribution partners in states with punitive sales tax laws. so not only do they not get the sales tax from amazon, they don't get the payroll tax/suda from the local company, and they don't get whatever benefits come from having employees spending their paychecks locally.

/taxes are taxing
 
2010-10-26 04:24:34 PM  
austin_millbarge: Let's see how many people in this thread complain about the ACLU's involvement. After all they are a communist organization and want everyone to pay as much tax as poss.... wait, they are against it?

b..b...but


I'm not sure why you're talking about the ACLU on tax issues, whether you like them or not the ACLU goes after cases of civil liberties (who'dathunkit) I don't recall them ever being involved in a tax issue.
 
2010-10-26 04:24:40 PM  
DrFrenchfry: ah North Carolina, how I love being your resident

I sure do. No place else I'd rather live.

//Well, actually in Fort Mill - just across the border. But close enough.
 
2010-10-26 04:25:30 PM  
So if I make an online purchase from an Alaskan Amazon vendor while at my folks' home in Texas and have it shipped to California, is North Carolina going to charge me tax just because I'm a resident?
 
2010-10-26 04:26:41 PM  
So lets review what North Carolina is doing.

Step 1: Identify an area where taxes can bring in huge amounts of revenue.

Step 2: Pass a law allowing you to tax that area.

Step 3: Send companies huge tax bills for taxes due before the law was passed.

Step 4: Profit.
 
2010-10-26 04:26:58 PM  
Ball of Confusion:
also, to people who rag on tax cuts, here is an obvious case where a company is trying very hard to minimize their tax burden, and they're willing to stop doing business with distribution partners in states with punitive sales tax laws. so not only do they not get the sales tax from amazon, they don't get the payroll tax/suda from the local company, and they don't get whatever benefits come from having employees spending their paychecks locally.

/taxes are taxing


Sounds like if Texas doesn't STFU Amazon will be out in no time, I can't really blame then considering the $269m figure Texas pulled out of it's ass to charge them. I guess they need it to blot out all the parts about evolution in their textbooks.
 
2010-10-26 04:30:03 PM  
HRPuffinStuff: So if I make an online purchase from an Alaskan Amazon vendor while at my folks' home in Texas and have it shipped to California, is North Carolina going to charge me tax just because I'm a resident?

Of course not, silly. Alaska, Texas, California, AND North Carolina are going to charge you tax.

Just you wait.
 
2010-10-26 04:30:03 PM  
Ball of Confusion: there's never just the one goal, where the government is concerned. there's ALWAYS ulterior motives in play.

also, to people who rag on tax cuts, here is an obvious case where a company is trying very hard to minimize their tax burden, and they're willing to stop doing business with distribution partners in states with punitive sales tax laws. so not only do they not get the sales tax from amazon, they don't get the payroll tax/suda from the local company, and they don't get whatever benefits come from having employees spending their paychecks locally.

/taxes are taxing


So why not cut spending? Too many states are basing their spending on pre-recession level revenue (which was unsustainable mind you).
Next they'll try to tax digital products. Good luck with that.
 
2010-10-26 04:32:56 PM  
i posted these questions late in a thread yesterday on "To help make up for a budget deficit the State of Texas sends Amazon.com a $269 million back tax bill", and this seems entirely relevant. I'd honestly like to hear any insight anyone can offer:

how does the state of texas come up with an amount owed? surely they're not allowed to estimate, and have to provide records to back up the figure they demand? what information does amazon owe texas in that regard? i wouldn't think amazon owes texas an accounting of what was sold to texans. i know each texas citizen could be honest/meticulous about paying such sales tax on their state tax forms, but how does texas know how many citizens didn't and for what amount?

so here north carolina's getting told no, amazon doesn't owe them an accounting of what north carolinians have purchased--how did texas arrive at a dollar amount to demand?
 
2010-10-26 04:34:47 PM  
Since this story comes up every so often, let's inject a few facts.

North Carolina's "Use Tax" law is not new. It has existed for a long time. The new law they're talking about affects affiliate programs which is why Amazon bailed on NC for that.

But the way it works as an NC resident is as follows:
* If you purchase from out of state and do not pay sales tax to another state, you are supposed to pay to NC as a part of your income tax, the equivalent sales tax as if it were purchased in state.

* However, since this is a bit of a record keeping nightmare, they let you estimate it each year depending on your income. This usually amounts to something like $50, but I guess could be much larger if you have a large income. In any event, assuming a 7.5% sales tax, this basically assumes you purchased about $670 out of state for the year. Obviously some people are going to win on this, some people are going to lose, but seeing as the cost of being audited is higher, it seems to make sense to check the estimation box.

This being Fark, people like to brag about not paying the use tax for their state (others have it like NC does). While I suspect enforcement is rather low, this is essentially tax fraud.

What NC was doing was trying to compel Amazon (essentially the biggest online merchant) to tell them how much each NC resident spent for the last 3 or 4 years. They did this in a stupid way via lawsuit, but the gist of the matter was to see if people's claimed use tax was at least somewhat inline with their actual purchases.

Now, what NC has not said is what precisely they'll do with the data if they get it. They have claimed they don't care about specific purchases, but have not stated whether they'll pursue enforcement of the tax for those people who estimated (via the state's guidelines) if it turns out they were on the short side. And as an NC resident, that bugs me.

For all I know, the estimate might be low for me for a few years. But so far as I know, the law allows that estimate. I'd rather they not discover I was $10 short in 2004 or some such and charge interest and penalties. Especially because I could just as well be over the other years. And for that reason I applaud Amazon's desire to fight this.
 
2010-10-26 04:37:10 PM  
TooMuchToDo: Ball of Confusion: there's never just the one goal, where the government is concerned. there's ALWAYS ulterior motives in play.

also, to people who rag on tax cuts, here is an obvious case where a company is trying very hard to minimize their tax burden, and they're willing to stop doing business with distribution partners in states with punitive sales tax laws. so not only do they not get the sales tax from amazon, they don't get the payroll tax/suda from the local company, and they don't get whatever benefits come from having employees spending their paychecks locally.

/taxes are taxing

So why not cut spending? Too many states are basing their spending on pre-recession level revenue (which was unsustainable mind you).
Next they'll try to tax digital products. Good luck with that.


It's only pork when it's not your district, and all politics is local.

How about we start cutting services for YOUR area. What would you like to lose first - road repair, or garbage pick-up? Not so cut and dried, is it...(?)

I say the first thing to do is reneg on the AFSCME pension obligations. Your benefit is cut and your retirement age is raised.
 
2010-10-26 04:40:25 PM  
The use tax is a stupid idea. You want me to itemize my online expenditures? It isn't worth my time, I don't like the idea of interstate tariffs, and I'm not sure why NC should tax something not purchased in our state. I'll gladly kick in an extra $50 in taxes simply to avoid the paperwork. Tax me.

So much talk about government spending. How much money has been spent on this issue? You want to raise tax revenue? Raise the income tax. Morons.
 
2010-10-26 04:42:08 PM  
Fundamentally, I have a problem with states claiming I have to pay sales taxes on items I buy in other states through telephone, mail order, and the Internet? If it's such a big deal, set up border stations and inspect cars coming in for contraband like cheap cigarettes or booze.

Why don't they just raise their income taxes rather than go after Amazon.com? A lot of companies, located in other states, provide similar services.
 
2010-10-26 04:46:23 PM  
Ball of Confusion: there's never just the one goal, where the government is concerned. there's ALWAYS ulterior motives in play.

also, to people who rag on tax cuts, here is an obvious case where a company is trying very hard to minimize their tax burden, and they're willing to stop doing business with distribution partners in states with punitive sales tax laws. so not only do they not get the sales tax from amazon, they don't get the payroll tax/suda from the local company, and they don't get whatever benefits come from having employees spending their paychecks locally.

/taxes are taxing


This, plus how much has the state spent on this case?
 
2010-10-26 04:50:16 PM  
Ball of Confusion: TooMuchToDo: Ball of Confusion: there's never just the one goal, where the government is concerned. there's ALWAYS ulterior motives in play.

also, to people who rag on tax cuts, here is an obvious case where a company is trying very hard to minimize their tax burden, and they're willing to stop doing business with distribution partners in states with punitive sales tax laws. so not only do they not get the sales tax from amazon, they don't get the payroll tax/suda from the local company, and they don't get whatever benefits come from having employees spending their paychecks locally.

/taxes are taxing

So why not cut spending? Too many states are basing their spending on pre-recession level revenue (which was unsustainable mind you).
Next they'll try to tax digital products. Good luck with that.

It's only pork when it's not your district, and all politics is local.

How about we start cutting services for YOUR area. What would you like to lose first - road repair, or garbage pick-up? Not so cut and dried, is it...(?)

I say the first thing to do is reneg on the AFSCME pension obligations. Your benefit is cut and your retirement age is raised.


Road repair comes out of my fuel taxes paid when I buy gas for the car/motorcycle/truck. Garbage pickup? Veoila Environmental, a private company I pay every 3 months ($25/month). Road repair on the interstates that bring my my Amazon packages? Paid for by fuel tax on the diesel those trucks use. I have no problem paying my $5K/year in property taxes that mostly go to education, but states wanting a cut of a purchase when the seller has no physical presence there is just bullshiat.
 
2010-10-26 04:54:07 PM  
A room full of mildly retarded monkeys on a 14 hour coke binge could do just as well with NC's budget as the current crop of officials have done.

//State employee constantly worried if he'll have a job to go to when the new fiscal year starts
 
2010-10-26 05:03:49 PM  
Ball of Confusion: How about we start cutting services for YOUR area. What would you like to lose first - road repair, or garbage pick-up? Not so cut and dried, is it...(?)

Can I make a list?
 
2010-10-26 05:10:13 PM  
chu2dogg: Ball of Confusion: How about we start cutting services for YOUR area. What would you like to lose first - road repair, or garbage pick-up? Not so cut and dried, is it...(?)

Can I make a list?


Nope, list-making was cut last year.
 
2010-10-26 05:10:18 PM  
TooMuchToDo: Road repair comes out of my fuel taxes paid when I buy gas for the car/motorcycle/truck. Garbage pickup? Veoila Environmental, a private company I pay every 3 months ($25/month). Road repair on the interstates that bring my my Amazon packages? Paid for by fuel tax on the diesel those trucks use. I have no problem paying my $5K/year in property taxes that mostly go to education, but states wanting a cut of a purchase when the seller has no physical presence there is just bullshiat.

State and federal highways are paid for mostly out of gas and registration fees, but most localities use money from their general funds (aka not from gas/insurance/etc taxes) for local streets.
 
2010-10-26 05:12:12 PM  
AirForceVet: Why don't they just raise their income taxes rather than go after Amazon.com?

Because of communism.
 
2010-10-26 05:15:21 PM  
Bashatizin' Smashmaster: A room full of mildly retarded monkeys on a 14 hour coke binge could do just as well with NC's budget as the current crop of officials have done.

I totally disagree with your entry. The aforementioned drug-crazed simians could craft a far finer budget than the current NC legislature has spewed forth.

/NC is such a gorgeous place to live.
//It's a shame our state leaders are so damned dumb
 
2010-10-26 05:17:46 PM  
ongbok: So lets review what North Carolina is doing.

Step 1: Identify an area where taxes can bring in huge amounts of revenue.

Step 2: Pass a law allowing you to tax that area.

Step 3: Send companies huge tax bills for taxes due before the law was passed.

Step 4: Profit.


Unfortunately this is North Carolina we're talking about, and the taxable item they chose is BOOKS. Somehow, I don't think they've thought through their cunning plan. They should be focusing on NASCAR hats/shirts, beer, wooden crosses and Confederate flags.
 
2010-10-26 05:22:44 PM  
evilmousse: i posted these questions late in a thread yesterday on "To help make up for a budget deficit the State of Texas sends Amazon.com a $269 million back tax bill", and this seems entirely relevant. I'd honestly like to hear any insight anyone can offer:

how does the state of texas come up with an amount owed? surely they're not allowed to estimate, and have to provide records to back up the figure they demand? what information does amazon owe texas in that regard? i wouldn't think amazon owes texas an accounting of what was sold to texans. i know each texas citizen could be honest/meticulous about paying such sales tax on their state tax forms, but how does texas know how many citizens didn't and for what amount?

so here north carolina's getting told no, amazon doesn't owe them an accounting of what north carolinians have purchased--how did texas arrive at a dollar amount to demand?


Don't sniff the Texas 'Taxman's hand.
 
2010-10-26 05:22:54 PM  
Ok, there seems to be a buttload of NC farkers.
When are we gonna have an NC Fark party?
 
2010-10-26 05:30:49 PM  
kmolson50: The ACLU is right that the state has no business knowing what it is that you buy, only how much you bought for taxation purposes. The lawsuit only covers books and media, but I'd argue that it should cover all purchases.

Trying to collect taxes on previous year's sales before the laws were passed is absurd. It is just another desperate attempt from the states to collect money from any source even remotely possible. But that is a different issue.


Isn't it also a bit of a "post ex facto" no-no as well?
 
2010-10-26 05:32:05 PM  
Last year, state legislators passed a law making Amazon responsible for collecting sales taxes because it had a network of local affiliates - North Carolina residents who linked to products on their blogs, promoted Web shopping deals and offered coupons.

Before the change was adopted, Amazon cut its ties to those North Carolina affiliates. The company also stopped working with affiliates in Rhode Island and Colorado because of collection-enforcement laws passed in those states.

North Carolina's tax agency decided to pursue Amazon for taxes it argues should have been collected during the years those affiliates were operating, even before the new law was passed.


Um . . . ex post facto much?
 
2010-10-26 05:38:48 PM  
FTFA: Last year, state legislators passed a law making Amazon responsible for collecting sales taxes because it had a network of local affiliates
FTFA: Amazon cut its ties to those North Carolina affiliates.

These lawmakers hate small businesses.
 
2010-10-26 06:03:09 PM  
that's too bad. It's way better than the current battery of spatial and logic tests for mental handicaps..
 
2010-10-26 06:08:43 PM  
"they're willing to stop doing business with distribution partners in states with punitive sales tax laws. so not only do they not get the sales tax from amazon, they don't get the payroll tax/suda from the local company, and they don't get whatever benefits come from having employees spending their paychecks locally.
"

My brother in law runs a really successful affiliate site in VA, I won't plug it here but it has to do with cheapest text books! Anyway, VA started making the motions to do what NY did; if Amazon has affiliates in VA, they need to collect sales tax.

What happens every time is:

1) Affiliate / Taxable Law is passed
2) Amazon drops any and all affiliates in that state
3) Affiliates go out of business
4) States get no Amazon tax, and now no tax from 100's of small businesses.

So fail, all around to the states that do pass this. Luckily he testified, and helped stop the VA tax. Blargh
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2010-10-26 06:09:43 PM  
What would you like to lose first - road repair, or garbage pick-up?

My city picks up trash without extra charge. Nearby towns make residents pay extra for trash pickup. My father lives in a town with no trash pickup and hires a private service. All three methods work. So definitely cut garbage pick-up first.
 
2010-10-26 06:11:50 PM  
Theaetetus: austin_millbarge: After all they are a communist organization and want everyone to pay as much tax as poss.... wait, they are against it?

Your "bu...bu..." is premature:
"The ACLU is not taking issue with the department's authority to collect taxes on these purchases..." said Katy Parker, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation.


it was a preemptive b..b..but... designed to mock people who rag on the ACLU for no other reason than the ACLU has taken cases they disagree with.

/omfgcommunizmeleventy
 
2010-10-26 06:13:10 PM  
Barakku: austin_millbarge: Let's see how many people in this thread complain about the ACLU's involvement. After all they are a communist organization and want everyone to pay as much tax as poss.... wait, they are against it?

b..b...but

I'm not sure why you're talking about the ACLU on tax issues, whether you like them or not the ACLU goes after cases of civil liberties (who'dathunkit) I don't recall them ever being involved in a tax issue.


It's a privacy issue that is the big kerfuffle in this issue. They clearly aren't arguing the case on tax grounds.
 
2010-10-26 06:32:01 PM  
joelris: Ok, there seems to be a buttload of NC farkers.
When are we gonna have an NC Fark party?


I concur, but it could be a bad idea.
 
2010-10-26 06:41:22 PM  
Don't they have enough money already?.
 
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