Politicians Determined to Make Online Shoppers Pay


Since the dawn of the internet, shoppers who take a risk by purchasing something online that they can’t see or try on experience enjoyed a small (albeit legally grey area) kickback: avoiding the sales tax they’d pay if they bought the same item from a brick-and-mortar (or, you know, drywall-and-vinyl siding) store. But those days may be numbered, thanks to renewed political efforts by politicians who want to make sure you’re paying sales tax on that Asos tank top.

As it stands now, states can’t collect sales tax on items purchased from retailers that don’t have a location in their borders. That means that if you want to order from TopShop and you live in, say, Texas, there’s no way your state can force you to pay tax on it. Much to the chagrin of residents of states that have the highest average sales tax — places like Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Washington, Oklahoma, New York, and Illinois — Congress looks like it’s poised to close the loophole with a measure that, if passed, would kick in on November 1st. Goodbye sweet sweet cheapy tax free Modcloth salt and pepper shakers. Farewell, Plasticland accessories.

Supporting the measure are small business owners and groups like the National Retail Association. Opposing, exactly who you’d expect: online marketers who enjoy a competitive leg up with lower consumer-facing prices thanks to the tax loophole. And probably grumbling consumers who will be forced to pay a little bit more online or put on some pants and walk to an actual store.

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