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Letter: Mehrens confused about impact of Internet sales tax initiative

Published March 22, 2014 1:01 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Nathan Mehrens is confused about the Internet sales tax issue and the so-called "Marketplace Fairness Act," which he praises as addressing a "competitive advantage" enjoyed by online retailers ("Chaffetz is tackling Internet sales tax issue," Opinion, March 15).

The federal government's thumb is not on the proverbial scale, as he claims. Quite the opposite: Current law says if a business has a physical presence in a state, it must collect its sales tax, but if it has no presence, it does not. That goes for online businesses, brick-and-click and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, too.

The law is designed this way for good reason. Businesses with a physical presence place burdens on and enjoy the benefits of local infrastructure and services, while out-of-state businesses do not. States may not reach across their borders to tax businesses located outside their jurisdiction, a key taxpayer protection.

The Marketplace Fairness Act would give voracious revenue agents from states like California, Illinois and New York the power to force their sales tax rules on Utah-based businesses. Granting states a new power to tax that's as big as the reach of the Internet itself, as Mehrens advocates, is no limited-government solution at all.

Andrew Moylan

Senior Fellow

R Street Institute

Washington, D.C.

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