Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
NewsOpinionReaders Respond

Effort to tax online sales could cost Maryland jobs

MarketingE-Commerce IndustryElections

Your recent editorial advocating taxation of online sales ("The digital divide," June 26) understates the legal and practical difficulties of imposing such a tax.

Far from being a "subsidy" or "tax exemption" for such sellers, the current law is based on the Supreme Court's ruling that the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution bars states from imposing sales tax collection responsibilities on companies that are not physically present in the state. This decision stems from our founding fathers' understanding that states would attempt to export their tax burdens to other jurisdictions and impede interstate commerce.

A few other states have attempted to end run this constitutional prohibition by focusing on a small set of on-line advertisers, known as "affiliate marketers." These laws assert that a certain type of active, in-state promotion by websites constitutes nexus for sales tax collection. The unfortunate result of these laws has been either litigation or the on-line retailers ending business ties with affiliate marketers in the state. Neither North Carolina nor Rhode Island saw increased revenue as a result of the tax, both lost jobs, and now there are efforts in both states to repeal the laws. So while it is doubtful that such a law would yield any revenues for the state treasury, it would clearly have a negative impact on the thousands of Maryland-based small businesses that would see their affiliate agreements with remote sellers terminated.

The real solution for leveling the playing field is for Maryland to adopt tax changes that will enable it to participate in the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement. Two dozen other states have adopted conforming changes to simplify their sales tax laws, enabling them to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes from remote sellers. Why not Maryland?

Kathy Snyder,Annapolis

The writer is president and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
MarketingE-Commerce IndustryElections
  • Brown endorsement inexcusable
    Brown endorsement inexcusable

    I would love to believe that The Baltimore Sun "struggled" in arriving at its tepid endorsement of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown for governor, but history would indicate otherwise ("Brown for governor," Oct. 25). No matter how weak the candidate or how disastrous the record (the...

  • Correction for Conaway
    Correction for Conaway

    Aside from the rest of the content of Del. Frank Conaway's letter published October 26 in the Sun ("Conaway: My views on evolution are not pertinent"), I would like to correct his misstatement of Charles Darwin's theory.

  • Carroll schools at a crossroads
    Carroll schools at a crossroads

    The Carroll County public schools are at a crossroads. Teachers are leaving in record numbers to earn substantially higher salaries in neighboring counties. The problems facing our school system fall directly on the doorstep of our current elected officials at both the county and state levels.

  • Zurawik hits below the belt in Ravens telecast critique
    Zurawik hits below the belt in Ravens telecast critique

    It was no surprise to read that David Zurawik did not like the CBS coverage of Sunday's Ravens game ("Greg Gumbel, Trent Green make Ravens' loss all the more painful to watch," Oct. 26). His columns are predictable rants.

  • Is money the only difference between winning and losing?
    Is money the only difference between winning and losing?

    Steve Schuh is the Tea Party Republican running for Anne Arundel County executive against Democrat George Johnson. I'm guessing green is Mr. Schuh's favorite color ("Schuh leads Johnson in Anne Arundel poll," Oct. 24).

  • We can beat Ebola
    We can beat Ebola

    Ebola will come to Baltimore, if it isn't here already ("Potential Ebola patient transferred to Baltimore hospital tests negative for virus," Oct. 28).

Comments
Loading