Minnesota's online sales tax runs up against Amazon

  • Article by: DAN WALTERS , Sacramento Bee
  • Updated: July 16, 2013 - 5:47 PM

Minnesota isn’t the first state to take on Amazon and come out a bit bruised.

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stolaf80Jul. 16, 13 6:20 PM

A bit bruised? If you talk to all the Amazon associates now cut off from their old revenue streams I'd say it's more like doubled over with a gut punch. If states were more reasonable about how they want taxes collected, online retailers would do it. The problem is collecting taxes for states is a black hole that will suck up millions of dollars in software development and compliance monitoring. You've got so many taxing entities out there and so many payment thresholds and percentage changes and reporting requirements, it's ridiculous. It's like trying to make 50 crying kids happy when they all keep changing their minds about what they want.

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donm251Jul. 16, 13 6:25 PM

Minnesota should follow California's lead, but it probably won't because the democrats in Minnesota are more concerned about taxes than jobs.

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supervon2Jul. 16, 13 7:23 PM

A cohort purchased a laptop from Best Buy. A year later, without his knowledge, his credit card was charged for a security update. He got his money back but found out that Best Buy had loaded the credit information on the laptop. Do you need any more reason to shop online and not put up with that flim-flam style of marketing?

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dxpavelkaJul. 16, 13 8:04 PM

It's not an INTERNET sales tax it's a sales tax. The law makes no distinction and never has: If you reside in the state of Minnesota and purchase a product that product is subject to sales tax. The only difference is that internet companies have found ways of not collecting that tax the way that other companies have always had to. Why should goods purchased online not be subject to sales tax when the same goods, if purchased over the telephone or my mail are taxable.

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antimonyJul. 17, 1312:32 AM

This analysis doesn't take into account that Target, Best Buy, Heartland America, and other retailers are headquartered here and have a lot of pull with the legislature.

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donm251Jul. 17, 1312:37 AM

dxpavelka - Minnesota law exempts the first $750 purchase's from sales tax.

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chuckdancerJul. 17, 13 6:53 AM

There is absolutely no reason why Amazon or others like it should be able to evade collecting the state's sales tax on goods they sell. Retail sales are retail sale no matter the method. There should be a single rate for the state that disregards all other taxing jurisdictions in the state. That removes the single biggest complaint these companies offer against collection and boils it down to the e fact that not collecting sales tax is a huge, huge undeserved competitive advantage against all other retailers. If they don't collect the tax they should be held liable as any other retailer would certainly be. this isn't even close to being a difficult decision. These bleeps are basically cheaters and are loving it all the way to the bank.

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EleanoreJul. 17, 13 7:22 AM

"The law makes no distinction and never has: If you reside in the state of Minnesota and purchase a product that product is subject to sales tax." - Amazon has no relationship with the state, it is not incorporated here, not licensed here, and has no physical presence here. I as a US citizen am a resident of MN, not a subject of MN elected officials (even if they are acting legitimately). At no point in a purchase I make with amazon does the state have a legal authority to impose a tax on my consumer freedom of choice. No authority whatsoever. I would suggest the party corrected their unlawful ways before they impose more waste on MN and its residents. The party cannot “make it so” simply by claiming authority, we have legal standards here that demonstrate clearly the state has no role in these types of consumer interactions. This is a far more dangerous situation than the party expects. They expect people to submit to their whims. That time is rapidly coming to an end when the preponderance of their whims are so far outside the law, reason, and the constitutional standard.

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furguson11Jul. 17, 13 7:26 AM

It must be fun for amazon and other online sellers to deal with different sales tax in 50 states and around the world. Plus if we pass a US law, you can just order from China. This hole will never be plugged.

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reidJul. 17, 13 8:10 AM

The underlying force is the ever increasing need for taxes. For money. For a way to turn over every single stone looking for another way to drain another dollar from every taxpayer. A clear alternative to the ever increasing vacuum of the legislature sucking up every spare penny in a time of struggling economic need, is to decrease spending. Sounds tough, but what about the tough pain faced by each taxpayer who is unable to avoid paying for every service, every purchase? When will food, clothing, and essential services be taxed more? Oh, wait. Look at your phone bill. Look at your energy bill. See any taxes on there that don't make sense? The thinking purchaser will naturally turn to any seller that avoids adding anything additional to the bill. Rein in spending for non-essentials, do what every serious financial consultant would tell a private individual....make a budget, stick to it, cut out (for the time being) Starbucks, eating out many times a week, don't build costly stadiums without a known cash flow to support it, and when the good times return, then loosen up and start spending again. The state is no different. The answer is not more taxes. The answer is to look back at how, in decades previous, we could do just fine with less tax collected.

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