Don’t force Amazon.com to collect sales taxes without examining your motives

Chris Butler
|
May 05, 2014 5:15 PM
Don’t force Amazon.com to collect sales taxes without examining your motives

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — You don’t have faith in Tennessee officials’ ability to spend your tax dollars wisely.

Or maybe Tennessee officials don’t have enough faith in you, the taxpayer, to pony up what they think you should owe.

Let’s say that at the very least the latter of the two possibilities is true.

MOTIVES: Just what are the motives of people who want Amazon to pay a sales tax?

MOTIVES: Just what are the motives of people who want Amazon to pay a sales tax?

Why else would state officials force Amazon.com, which has distribution facilities throughout the state, to start collecting a 9.25 percent sales taxes from state residents on company products?

Are they well-meaning individuals who only want to make things fair for everybody, including the brick-and-mortar business owners who say they’ve lost business to Amazon?

Or were they afraid the green sugar from the taxpayers was going to dry up if people had a choice to go elsewhere?

The Chattanooga Times Free Press recently interviewed a man by the ironic name of Adam Smith who said he will no longer shop at Amazon due to the tax.

Smith told the newspaper he now prefers to buy items from other online outlets not subject to the sales tax.

According to the newspaper, Tennessee is one of 20 states now requiring Amazon to collect a sales tax. The paper also cited an Ohio State University research study that shows such sales taxes drive customers away and reduce sales by 9.5 percent.

In its own study, the Massachusetts-based National Bureau of Economic Research made similar findings, adding that brick-and-mortar businesses increased their revenue by only 2 percent.

SALES TAXES: A new study reveals Amazon.com loses revenue when forced to charge a sales tax.

SALES TAXES: A new study reveals Amazon.com loses revenue when forced to charge a sales tax.

Competing online retailers not subject to the tax increased their revenue by 19.8 percent, the study found.

So, bottom line, taxes influence a person’s spending habits.

Most people would consider that an obvious fact, but that lesson continues to elude politicians and economic progressives.

Tennessee’s politicians, many of whom are Republican, arrogantly assume they are better stewards of this money than you or me.

Tennessee Watchdog has documented more than enough examples of government waste for to you know their predispositions are blatantly false.

Economic progressives, who idealize economic equality and supposedly mean well, point to brick-and-mortar business owners who lose customers to Amazon.

In reality these businesses likely lose customers because they didn’t sell their products at competitive prices.

Whatever the motives, in their zeal to force Amazon to charge sales taxes, lawmakers are ultimately robbing you, the consumer, of a choice.

Brick-and-mortar business owners have the option to sell their products at competitive prices or even sell them online as well — if they truly wanted to compete.

Tennessee’s Adam Smith chooses to do business with someone other than Amazon or brick and mortars now.

Another Adam Smith, an 18th century economic philosopher, preached that countries only reap poverty and despair when they discourage business and punish productive activities. Perhaps the groups who favor forcing Amazon to collect sales taxes should re-examine their own motives and ask if what they’re doing is for everybody’s benefit — or theirs’ alone.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org. or follow him and submit story ideas on his official Facebook page.

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