Tax Man Knocking on Georgia’s Door Re Internet Sales

  If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street, If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat. If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat, If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet… State legislatures around the country, even Republican controlled ones like Georgia, are resurrecting the lyrics of “Taxman,” the 1966 Beatles hit, as they look for new ways to pick the taxpayer’s pocket. The getaway car for this latest heist? A tax on internet sales. Thus, an addition to George Harrison’s lyrics: “If you buy on line, I’ll tax that treat.” The first attempt to tax online sales, made by North Dakota, failed when the Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that the state could not collect a sales tax on orders or goods sold by Quill Corporation to North Dakotans because Quill did not have a bricks and mortar presence in the state or any other kind of “nexus”. And doing so violated the Constitution since only Congress could regulate interstate commerce. The Court allowed, however, that Congress could legislate permission to the states to collect such a tax. The brave men and women of Congress, being elected every two years, have demurred doing that for 25 years. So that leaves the states to devise a constitutional-proof scheme on their own. Take Georgia, for example. This is a state firmly in GOP hands: both legislative houses and all constitutional officers from governor to state school superintendent are Republicans. It is a conservative state. A bill to collect sales tax from online retailers, however, has been introduced and may likely pass. It is estimated...


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