Published on: November 18, 2008
On the subject of whether the troubled economy could finally lead to the imposition of sales taxes on products bought via the Internet – which I questioned in my commentary, reasoning that such taxes could kill an industry that continues to thrive in an environment where few industries are seeing any increases – one MNB
user wrote:Unless, of course, it success is because of the unfair competitive-advantage.
Fair point. But if you killed Internet sales, would those purchases automatically go to brick and mortar stores.
I doubt it.
user wrote:Think of no sales tax on the internet policy as a subsidy to get an industry off the ground. The on-line industry is no longer in it’s infancy. On-line retailing has several cost advantages over Bricks and Mortar (B&M) including but not limited to, lower overhead, lower rent, no sales tax, and likely higher sales revenue per employee, etc.
B&M also pay property taxes on their retail sites, whether direct or indirect (rent) vs. just paying real estate taxes on warehouse / distribution sites (likely at a lower rate). In essence, on-line merchants are getting a double tax break at this point, having to collect sales tax only levels the playing field a bit with the B&M establishments.
I for one never truly understood why you would give on-line merchants such a huge advantage when you have established retail businesses paying property and sales taxes already. The internet would have developed without the subsidy (don’t start me on ethanol).
Collecting sales taxes will not discourage on-line transactions. The convenience factor alone will drive continued growth of on line sales.
Maybe. But I’m not sure I’d risk it at this point.
But disagreement with my position continues, with another MNB
user chiming in:Level the playing field. Sales tax isn’t the only tax revenue that states are losing by on line buying. Gas taxes (not always a bad thing)– lost income taxes because fewer jobs are needed at brick and mortar stores and I am sure others, office supplies for example. Not wanting to pay sales tax in states with that tax is part of our American greed, for the consumer to buy cheap products from the third world where there are no labor rules, environmental rules etc., for the retailer to have an unfair advantage and thereby increase business at some other business’s expense.
Why wouldn’t they be taxed the same?
I understand the point. Just not sure it makes sense at this point.
And an MNB
user raised the following question:When I buy products on certain sites, I pay taxes - for example, I just bought some prints from Snapfish and paid sales tax for Ohio, which was where I was sending them (Grandma). On the other hand, I don't usually pay taxes when I buy something on eBay. Why is one business basically penalized by having to abide by sales tax rules? Especially in situations where the exact same product, new and in the box, can be bought either on eBay or through a standard retailer?
I’m not entirely sure, but it may have to do with whether the online retailer with which you are dealing has a physical presence in your state. If it does, they charge sales tax. If they don't. no tax applies.
At least for the moment.
On the subject of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), one MNB
user wrote:On EFCA, there is a disaster looming for all companies where this would quickly be applied by union organizers. There are some fine places to work (Wegmans, HEB, many others) that are not unionized and have superior pay and benefits. If EFCA becomes the norm, these shops and others like them would become targets of union organizer bullying and intimidation, with campouts in front of warehouses and stores. Without a secret ballot, organizers can pester and intimidate people into signing the card just to get them out of their faces, possibly not realizing that card is their ballot. Soon, benefits and pay would fall to union minimum requirements, leaving many families worse off. I can also picture a trimming of the workforce to free up dollars for increasing the sizes of legal departments (always needed when unions are present).
My neighbor runs a Toyota truck plant (non-union) where this is certainly going to become a big issue. He tells me that the union people always have tables set up at entrances and are henpecking people to listen to their spiel and sign up every day of the week. Most pass them by because they already have good jobs and good benefits. Currently, people are not intimidated because they know there will be a secret ballot if the issue ever generates enough interest. Typically, several union folks try to corner one worker and convince them. If the law changes, this could get ugly. The plant recently closed for 100 days to let sales of trucks catch up with built inventories. Every worker was paid their normal pay and benefits throughout this period and worked in community volunteer projects instead of going to the factory every day. Now, they are all back to work and the plant will be producing again in a few days. Nobody lost anything and the community benefited. If American automakers had this sort of mindset, they wouldn't be in the trouble they are in today.
More about the ultimate hamburger list…
user wrote:Loved your ultimate burger list just as I always enjoy your wine & dine suggestions -- thanks so much.
Shall we make things more interesting? I propose a potentially more challenging list: the ultimate Veggie Burger. Yes, there really IS more out there than the ubiquitous Garden Burger, so let's hear about it.
If you and your fellow adventurous eaters are game, I'll get the ball rolling:
BBQ "Bacon Cheeseburger" - Chicago Diner.
If people want to chime in on this, I’m happy to run the emails.MNB
user Al Kober had another burger joint to throw into the mix:Menches Brothers: I heard all the other claims but here is where the hamburger was invented and they have the documentation to prove it.
One piece of bad news regarding Smokejack’s, a Vermont bistro that I mentioned weeks ago as having a great burger, and that was mentioned again yesterday in an email from an MNB
user Chuck Ercanbrack wrote:I reviewed the Best Burger list and was surprised that the Big Ass Burger made by the Roaring Fork here in Scottsdale, AZ didn't make the list. Next time you are in AZ be sure and give it a try with a nice cold beer. It will be, as you say, "Yummy".
One final note. Yesterday I ran a couple of emails criticizing me for using the Jimmy Buffett line from “Cheeseburger in Paradise” – “Good God Almighty, which way do I steer?” – in the headline about the ultimate hamburger list. They felt that I was being vulgar and irreverent in my use of the word “God,” and I responded by saying that while I felt bad that they were offended, I thought the usage completely appropriate. (When it comes to being irreverent, I plead guilty. Cheerfully.)
I got a number of emails from people who felt that I had nothing to apologize for. One typical email:Criticism for using a Buffet Line in your commentary??????? Looks like Political Correctness continues to run amok!
I know you always try to be sensitive to the feeling s of your readers but it is commentary!! Please ignore the complaints and continue to deliver your beliefs and points in a way you consider proper not based on some lunatic fringe.
Good Luck always. Not your fault not all of your readers are Parrot Heads.
Sure glad you didn’t drop any lines from “A Pirate Looks at 40” into your text. That would have really been interesting.
Or, heaven help us, “Why Don't We get Drunk…”
I am reminded of what Jimmy Buffett said about Captain Tony Tarracino, the former mayor of Key West, Florida, and the owner of Captain Tony’s Saloon there, who passed away at age 92. Buffett already had written a song about Captain Tony, “Last Mango In Paris.” But in a concert just after his death, he said the following:
“Captain Tony had 14 children by eight women. That may not get him canonized, but it sure is cool.”
I like that a lot.MNB
may not get me canonized. But I hope it is at least a little bit cool, and I’ll settle for irreverent and a little bit different.