Crony capitalism and the tax man seem to be winning again, this time at the expense of millions of Internet buyers and sellers.
The lobbyists on K Street found another compliant politician, Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi, willing to do their bidding to accommodate their big retailer clients and state governments seeking more tax revenues.
Sen. Enzi, of course, claims “fairness” as the motive for his actions. He argues “it’s only fair” that all buyers must pay sales taxes, irrespective of where purchases are made.
His rationale that everyone should pay equal sales taxes is more a mentality rooted in the politics of envy than “fairness.”
But it’s the legal implications of Sen. Enzi’s reasoning which are most concerning.
Sen. Enzi’s legislation would brand Internet sellers as federal criminals if they do not collect and pay state sales taxes to thousands of political jurisdictions outside their domicile state, taxes which other states have imposed upon their residence buyers.
The argument is that “it’s just too difficult” to collect state sales taxes from resident buyers who owe them, so therefore we should make out-of-state Internet sellers collect them, and if they refuse, make federal criminals of them. (That used to be called, “taxation without representation.”)
If Sen. Enzi’s legal scheme does become federal law, it surely will be constitutionally challenged in the courts.
It’s a legitimate question under the commerce clause whether the federal government, or certainly state governments, can force out-of-state Internet sellers to collect and pay sales taxes owed by buyers of other states.
The question is whether Sen. Enzi’s federal Internet sales tax legislation can impose and enforce a national mandate on Internet sellers to do this, something which the states could not alone achieve constitutionally?
Sen. Enzi has compromised his elected role representing the general interests of his voting constituency when he caters to the lobbyists of large retailers and state governments by imposing more new costs on consumer taxpayers.
It’s merely another commentary on how crony capitalism has captured our political system as politicians peddle the politics of envy disguised by phony claims of “fairness.”
Robert G. Anderson