Booksellers Call for E-Retailers to Pay Taxes
-- 12/20/99

Immediately before last week's meeting of the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce--the organization charged with examining e-commerce tax issues--a group of California booksellers demanded that the state's Board of Equalization start collecting sales tax due from e-commerce retailers including, and

By failing to collect sales tax from e-retailers, "the B has handed these companies an enormous and unfair competitive advantage that they are using against local businesses," said Hut Landon, executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. The booksellers have asked that the commission come up with a fair plan that will protect all businesses on and off the Internet. Until new legislation is approved, however, the booksellers want the B to enforce existing laws that call for sales taxes to be collected in states where companies have a physical presence. The law, however, is rarely enforced, not only in California, but most other states as well.

B&N and Borders have argued that their stores in California do not constitute a "nexus," in part because they are separate legal entities.

At last week's hearing in San Francisco, no new ground was broken, as both the pro-tax side and the antitax side reiterated their positions. A recommendation from the panel is due in April.