Politicians Discuss Mandatory Internet Sales Tax

Anne Winter
WASHINGTON — Politicians are debating a mandatory sales tax be put on all out-of-state online purchases, an argument that now, with a Democrat-controlled Congress, is more likely than ever to become a reality.

A recent CNET article, reported that the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement — created in 2002 by tax officials in the hopes of clarifying complicated state tax laws — could make it easier for Congress to mandate an online sales tax. Twenty-two states so far have signed onto the project.

Adult industry lawyer J.D. Obenberger told XBIZ that online taxation is inevitable and would play a vital role in the economy, and it would cause no problems for the adult industry as long as the regulation is uniform and non-discriminatory.

Current tax laws exempt certain products from taxation — such as the sale of information — and Obenberger said the government has a tradition of showing preference to some items over others. He said there is no way of knowing if the proposed set of uniform tax rules would include special taxes on adult purchases, but that it certainly invites speculation.

Obenberger's main concern with the proposed taxation is not the tax itself, but that the Internet is not yet ready for a mandatory sales tax — not until it has reached its highest potential, what he said some call "Web 2.0."

"The Internet is still growing and morphing," Obenberger said. "[An Internet sales tax] would be premature until the Internet is hooked up and wired with fiber optic cables in every home that signs up for it. Until that is in place, taxation is not appropriate."