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Thursday, February 13, 2003

She Would Both Giveth, And Taketh Away

California Senator Deborah Bowen (D-Redondo Beach), who introduced legislation in California that would enable spam recipients to recover the greater of actual damages or $500 per offending item (as discussed previously here), also is the author of SB 157, introduced two days ago. If passed, SB 157 would require businesses with no physical presence in the state to start collecting sales tax from California residents in online transactions. Senator Bowen and California are not alone. Thirty-four other states and the District of Columbia are backing the Streamlined Sales & Use Tax Agreement (the "SSUTA," related site here), as further described in the Senator's press release and this San Jose Business Journal article. A six-part series on the SSUTA is available here, from E-Commerce Tax News. These efforts are at odds with federal legislation introduced last month by Congressman Cox (R-CA) and Senator Wyden (D-OR), that would prohibit states indefinitely from requiring out of state online sellers to collect sales tax that would be charged if the buyer were making a local purchase. Subsequent commentary seems to suggest Cox and Wyden are more likely to obtain another extension of the existing moratorium -- which otherwise expires this November -- than the permanent ban they seek. In other words, this is no hoax, people. Shop now, shop now...

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