EDITORIAL: No Penalty on Convenience

Hard work and innovation have always been the key to success in America. Entrepreneurs stay up all night working on their better mousetraps, looking to get the edge over the competition. The government stays up all night, too, always on the scout for ways to get a bigger piece of the pie it had nothing to do with baking.

Virginians shopping online encountered this in September when, thanks to a deal Gov. Bob McDonnell, the Republican tax man, made with Amazon to begin collecting the Virginia state sales tax on online purchases. This idea is not new, and its time may have come. Another Republican, Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, is pushing the federal online tax in the House of Representatives. The legislation has already been approved by the Senate. We can assume that President Obama will sign it with his usual enthusiasm for taxes if it makes it to his desk. 

Mr. Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, couches the Internet tax in terms of fairness, equality and tax relief, and at first look it does have a certain appeal to fairness. Why should a brick-and-mortar store be required to collect a 6 percent sales tax if an Internet merchant doesn’t? There are persuasive arguments on both sides, but governments are less interested in fairness than in finding new sources of tax revenue. The government, after all, is an enormous mouth, and its breath is usually bad.

Read the complete editorial in The Washington Times here