We have come to a crossroads in this country where public services have become an expensive proposition and each and every struggling state and local government is trying to squeeze out every dollar they can from tax payers without them noticing it.
Chances are your community has a "room tax" on hotels and motels, you just don't know it because don't stay there. You will notice it on your next vacation.
There are also taxes on food, drugs and other important items at the federal, state and local level.
Thus far, there have not been taxes on the Internet because there is no way to regulate them and make sure each state gets it's proper share. To do this Internet stores would have to enlist an army of people to track and calculate these taxes and then return them to the states that they belong in. Some cities like Mobile, AL where I live are drooling at the prospect of getting this money.
Mobile City Finance Director Barbara Malkove says "There are a lot of us that feel that all of our (brick-and-mortar) businesses here are supporting our local charities and ball teams (etc.)," Malkove said. "These other people are not. I know that is the sentiment of a lot of the businesses here and I hope that (message) is being passed along."
This is the same kind of attitude that arose in the 60's when local people thought the interstate would prevent people from stopping and spending money in their communities. It's the same attitude people have when Walmart wants to come to town.
I shop on the Internet for two reasons: First, outside of groceries, I don't like to shop. I don't like crowds, I don't like being assailed by sales people and I don't like using a tank of gas to drive around town to find what I am looking for if they indeed have it to begin with.
Furthermore, even with tax and delivery, the Internet is cheaper. How much cheaper you ask? I was looking for a 5 quart Dutch Oven. I found one at a store for $99 dollars and another one for $89. I found one on the Internet for $29.95.
That's right, I found what I was looking for at a great price in my jammies on a Saturday morning at 5am. Brick and mortar my buttocks.
One more reason: Because I am a big boy, it is hard for me to buy off the rack. Where do I order my clothes? That's right. On the Internet. Sorry Brick and Mortar guys, you just don't offer me clothes that fit. And if you do, you chage me far more than I want to pay. Omarthetentmaker.com is fine by me.
So, my message to you communities who whine about Internet commerce: You already tax us. You already spend everything you collect. You mismanage the money and then beg for new streams of revenue not tied to income tax. You think the Internet will open the flood gates for a financial windfall. But at the end of the day, you will most likely mismanage that.
And in reaping your windfall, you will put a lot of companies out of business or raise prices so they can process the wind fall.
Who benefits from this? The brick and mortar guys who are overcharging us in the first place and the people who mismanage our taxes.
Who gets screwed? Me, of course. But that's what you wanted in the first place, wasn't it?