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One Moment, Please...I told you so


Fri, Jun 21st, 2013
Posted in All Commentary

By Jason Sethre

Publisher

Fillmore County Journal &

Olmsted County Journal

Cell: 507-251-5297

jason@fillmorecountyjournal.com

Warning. I may sound like I am repeating myself quite a bit from a past commentary dated February 24, 2013, titled “One Moment, Please... Governor Dayton: Right idea, but not a state issue.” But, since my prediction has started to come true, I just can’t help myself.

In that commentary, with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton pushing for Affiliate Nexus – Minnesota E-Fairness, I indicated that this was a great idea but it needed to be addressed at a national level.

“The problem with Governor Mark Dayton’s plan is that Minnesota cannot do this alone. This is a national issue that needs Congressional attention. If Minnesota initiates this policy, and all other states are not on the same level playing field, consumer spending will simply shift elsewhere. Consumers are not dumb,” quoting myself.

And, guess what?

It has already started to happen. Amazon, the online store juggernaut, is pulling the plug on Minnesota. According to CBS Minnesota, “In order to avoid paying millions in sales tax to the state, Amazon sent notice to its Minnesota bloggers that they will soon be kicked out of a program that pays them for connecting people to the online retailer.”

I do commend Governor Dayton for addressing an issue that should have been addressed at a national level over a decade ago. However, the state of Minnesota cannot do it alone, as I have said in the past.

When you change the rules of the game, the marketplace changes the way the game is played. If we’re thinking in terms of sports, if you say that field goals are now worth 20 points and touchdowns are still only worth six points in an NFL game, well I think you’re going to see more field goals than touchdowns.

With cities, counties and states facing tremendous financial shortfalls, some even filing bankruptcy, think of all of the online transactions that slip through the taxation system like a sieve. Yeah, consumers are supposed to report their online transactions when making purchases, but that’s not happening.

That would be equivalent to going to the gas station or grocery store, and the clerk says that you can either pay for your sales tax that day at the checkout or take care of reporting and paying for it yourself. If the sales tax is not collected from the point of the transaction and it is left up to the consumer, it simply isn’t going to happen.

And, furthermore, as I’ve mentioned in the past, online retailers not being held accountable for charging and collecting sales tax for online transactions is not fair to brick-and-mortar retailers who are held accountable. It makes no sense at all. Why would we allow another form of commerce to play by different rules?

While the bloggers and Amazon online store participants residing in Minnesota may be upset with the Gopher state for initiating this online taxation policy, they should really be upset with our federal government for not stepping up to the plate and addressing this issue a long time ago.

To me, Amazon’s announcement is a slap in the face of our federal government.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again. This issue needs to be addressed at a national level.

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