My view: Time to create more taxes? Rep. Chaffetz thinks so

My view: Time to create more taxes? Rep. Chaffetz thinks so

By Phil Bond

Americans’ confidence in the economy continues to be lukewarm at best, with 53 percent saying the economy is “getting worse,” according to recent Gallup poll results. In addition, 35 percent of Americans say they worry about money, and nearly 15 percent, while employed, are underemployed. At the same time, voters’ confidence in Congress remains at a near all-time low and unemployment remains high at 5.9 percent.

So why would Congress even consider creating new taxes and regulations on small business?

The answer is that it shouldn’t. Less than a year ago, voters soundly rejected the big government agenda. They made this statement with great clarity, giving Republicans in the House of Representatives their biggest majority since Truman was president and handing the GOP majority control of the Senate. Republicans sold voters on less government, lower taxes and less regulation.

So why is Rep. Jason Chaffetz pushing new legislation that would take more money from consumers, create new taxes for small businesses and propound new regulations to empower state tax collectors to roam the Internet far beyond their borders?

This month, Chaffetz introduced the “Remote Transactions Parity Act of 2015” (RTPA). But names can be deceiving. There’s no parity, only disparity favoring big companies. In practice, it’s the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015. This bill is another attempt at imposing a new Internet sales tax regime on consumers who buy goods online and subjecting small business owners to audits in over 45 states.

All the reasons that MFA was rejected by the last Congress remain with Chaffetz’s bill. The RTPA would force online retailers to collect sales tax based on where a customer lives, not where the retailer is located. Online retailers would be forced to remit those sales tax collections to every state where a customer lives, filling out paperwork for each individual state and giving states the authority to collect taxes and impose their laws and regulations on businesses anywhere in America, not just within their own borders.

Advocates for Chaffetz’s Internet tax claim this will “level the playing field” between online retailers and brick and mortar stores, but that’s not true. Chaffetz’s bill imposes regulations and responsibilities on online retailers that brick and mortar stores don’t and won’t have. Brick and mortar stores don’t remit sales tax to any state except the state or jurisdiction where they operate, if a sales tax exists there. This bill would force online retailers to collect sales potentially for every state, city, or county that collects such a tax, and then remit it to them with the “proper’ paperwork. And along with the taxes they must submit details about each consumer’s transaction.

Far from leveling the playing field or parity, this disparity puts a crushing regulatory burden on small online retailers that brick and mortar stores won’t have. It raises costs to consumers, and it gives states and local jurisdictions the ability to track consumer’s buying activities globally and to demand payment from them. (One can only imaging the audits that would result.)

Chaffetz should reconsider. His bill doesn’t level the playing field, it gives an unfair advantage to big box, big money retailers by imposing new taxes and regulations on small online sellers and their customers. That simply does not comport with what voters were saying in the last election. This unsteady economy is no time for more taxes and more regulation.


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