Posted by Bob, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm
This tax payment requirement is just as unenforceable as it always has been, no matter how it's worded. The state of California can not force a citizen, or business, of another state to abide by California regulations, regardless of the intent or fairness consideration of the matter. Sending letters of demand to a retailer in another state, telling them they "Must Pay a California Tax" if they mail a package to California is meaningless and unworkable. All this did was cost us more money to print and mail the letters.
So what happens if the letters are ignored? Will California go to the courts if they are not paid? What will be the legal basis for demanding out of state payments? What precedents will be used for California's self grant of authority over residents of another state? How will they determine the amount of payment? Will California intercept all mail and package deliveries at the border to tally up the needed tribute, withholding certain deliveries until they are paid? Sounds ridiculous doesn't it.
I understand the intent. I know the on-line folks hurt the 'brick and mortar' in state retailer. But I think this is not so much an effort to help the poor California retailer, than it is an attempt to extract more money for the General Fund, to continue California's unsustainable employee programs.
I know this sound political and off topic. But hold on for a moment. Suppose California collects another $1B in revenue through this method. Do you think for one moment that it will reduce your taxes or eliminate cuts to social services or cuts to school programs? Do you? Or will it most likely be used to mildly modify portions of the budget or perhaps even create new spending programs. And at the same time take attention away from an unchanged pension system. You don't have to believe, just look back at recent state budgets missed and mismanaged regardless of how much money was in the coffer.
Regardless of how you feel about how the money might be used, the question is, how do we collect the tax. Well, the answer is in your own hands. If you "Really" feel that the on-line retailer is cheating California out of needed revenue, then stop buying on-line. It's entirely up to you. You have full control. You don't need a new law to help you do the right thing, you only need to take that one simple step and shop at the store in town, not on-line. And, if for some reason you can't stop yourself from buying on-line, then the answer here is simple as well. Report your purchase on your Tax return and pay the tax.
As already required by California law, you, the purchaser of the goods, are required to pay the sales tax on your purchase. In California we have the retailer collect the tax on your behalf and remit the tax to the state. Out of state retailers have no requirement to collect taxes other that the tax due in their own state. If you purchase out of state, you are required to report the value of the goods you have purchased and to pay the tax.
So, if this is really a big issue for you and you hate on-line retailers because it's just not fair nor equitable, then simple shop in town and pay your tax. It won't help the small business owner survive, but the state will be pleased to collect and spend your tax dollars.
Honestly, if you think on-line retail is screwing us all over, then stop doing business with them. Its all up to you.