Reporting Jon Keller
BOSTON (CBS) – Congratulations are in order, I guess, to Gov. Deval Patrick; Amazon, the mega-online-retailer; and the retailers, unions and local pols who pushed for it on their agreement to have Amazon start collecting the 6.25% sales tax on online purchases by Massachusetts residents.
Listen to Keller @ Large
There will be new revenues for the state, and a competitive boost for traditional businesses that can’t compete with Amazon’s prices. And it’s good corporate PR for Amazon, I suppose, as they expand their bricks-and-mortar business operations here.
As the governor put it yesterday: “This agreement is a win for all sides.”
But hold on a second there, sir. A win for all sides affected, or just those privy to the deal?
I get it, we rely heavily on the sales tax to fund our government, and it does seem unfair when out-of-state businesses don’t have to play by the same rules as our local merchants. If you’re organizing a torch and pitchfork protest of this, leave me out of it.
But I do have just a few questions for the celebrants of this new Amazon tax.
Just how much money will it really raise? The group that’s been lobbying for this claims the state lost $387 million to all online retailers in 2011, but that’s not even as much as we collect in sales taxes right now in one month.
And has there been any serious study of consumer behavior that can promise us we won’t scare away as much revenue as we take in by taxing online buying? We are already a state full of tax scofflaws — or do you carefully add up and pay the 6.25% on items you buy out-of-state but bring back here to use?
Many of the same lobbyists who push each year for the business-boosting sales tax holiday are now backing a permanent end to that same stimulation principle online.
Starting next fall, we’ll find out if this is better tax policy, or worse.
Lucky thing there are no other online retailers competing with Amazon who might tamper with the new game plan.