Most of the public oppose tax on Internet purchases

The vast majority of voters disagree with the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT) and Representative Delahunt. In a 2008 issue of Parade Magazine, readers were asked: “Should Internet Sales Be Taxed?” Based on 3,125 survey responses, 85 percent opposed taxing Internet sales. The Main Street Fairness Act would undermine ecommerce and the formation of home-based internet-centric businesses, both of which continue to grow rapidly.

It is understandable that NAREIT would want to stop the inexorable shift of commerce away from shopping centers and towards ecommerce. However, sales tax collection is not the reason for that shift, since shipping costs on Internet purchases are often more than the sales tax on that same product purchased at a mall owned by one of NAREIT’s members. There are many societal benefits to e-commerce as well.

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Ordering online is faster than driving to the mall, a benefit to today’s consumers who are pressed for both money and time. It helps the environment because they don’t have to drive to the mall, with the resulting air pollution, impact on global warming, and increased wear and tear on state’s transportation infrastructure. Instead, the products are delivered by the postal carrier/FedEx/UPS trucks that go through their neighborhood every day anyway.

Many homeowners who have lost their jobs or part of their income due to the economy are creating small home based Internet businesses. According to an ACNielsen International Research, even several years ago about 724,000 Americans said eBay was already their primary or secondary source of income. Another 1.5 million generated extra cash by having their garage sales on eBay. From the standpoint of equal tax treatment, if we tax online garage sales on eBay, Craigslist or Amazon, equal treatment would dictate that homeowners should be required to collect sales taxes at the physical garage sales in their driveway (on second thought, maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that idea).

While we appreciate the severe financial strains faced by the federal government and many state and local governments, there are better ways to deal with this challenge. Budget austerity is the first choice, and many (but not all) state and local governments have taken significant steps in that direction. If additional tax revenues are needed, there are many other alternatives that are less objectionable to their constituents. 

The solution is not the Main Street Fairness Act. It is a national Internet sales tax moratorium, along the lines of the sales tax moratoriums for such things as prescription drugs or temporary sales tax moratoriums on such things as back-to-school purchases. Revenue losses can be offset by a combination of budget austerity, and when absolutely needed, tax increases in areas opposed by far less than 85 percent of their constituents.  

From Bruce Hahn, president, American Homeowners Grassroots Alliance, Arlington, Va.

RNC Michael Steele is looking better to voters

Two years before Michael Steele’s comment “If he’s (President Barack Obama) such a student of history, has he not understood that, you know, that’s the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan,” my son, a Marine, said the naval air station he was at was abuzz with this mentality. Marines were hiking though a small ravine in Afghanistan. From the ridge of this ravine, Afghanis crushed these Marines to death simply by rolling and throwing down rocks and boulders onto them.

RNC Michael Steele knows empires cannot win land wars in Afghanistan. And the GOP and Democrats in Congress want to scratch out Steele’s eyes for speaking this truth.

Out of the political wilderness, Republican-Libertarian Congressman Ron Paul’s unwavering condemnation of President Bush’s war on terror and now President Obama’s war supports Steele’s comment and affirms what most Americans believe when he says we are not winning the war in Afghanistan, and Obama’s refusal to withdraw our troops from this morass stems only from his desire to appease everyone in Congress.

As it becomes increasingly evident the Bush and now Obama propped up Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is tossing around American foreign aid to his thug cronies who may or may not be connected to the Taliban or al Qaeda, Ron Paul and Michael Steele are looking better to the voters.

From Helen Logan Tackett, Fullerton, Calif.

Chamber held captive by select special interests
 

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American businesses have much to gain from the Financial Reform Bill. The recent financial collapse has had a severe impact on the credit available to small and mid-size companies, making it difficult for even profitable businesses to conduct their regular operations.

Yet, for some reason, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has continually resisted all meaningful attempts to reform a system that is threatening the very existence of many of its own members.

It is sad to see today’s Chamber held captive to the whims of a select few special interests groups, aggressively advocating policies that are detrimental to its actual constituents. By consistently lobbying the interests of big banks over everything else, it’s clear that the Chamber sees the vast majority of its members as “too small to matter.”

From Mike Keller, Brandon, Fla.