My latest op-ed, title above, appeared in The Virginian-PIlot Friday. The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the Marketplace Fairness Act today. Most expect it will pass. While the House of Representatives is another hurdle, I’ll go out on a limb and say that it will pass there, too. The states are hurting and this legislation will allow them to collect money that they are already owed, anyway.
I have to admit: I buy almost nothing online. My reason is simple: if I’m not happy with a product, I want to be able to return it easily. While I use the Internet to help me narrow my choices, it is in the local stores that I generally end up doing my purchasing. My latest purchase – an iPad Mini – is a perfect example. I did all my research online and then went to a local store to buy it.
Some things, though, have virtually disappeared from the local stores, as the stores themselves have disappeared. I used to buy electronics gear – hard drives, cables, etc. – at various local stores. Nearly all of them have closed – Circuit City and CompUSA, to name two. Right now, I need a replacement car charger for my GPS unit. I’m forced to buy it online – and take my chances – because it simply isn’t available anywhere locally. Truth is that if I had a local outlet, the charger would have been replaced by now. As it is, I’ve got to find the time to track down the part, order it, wait for the delivery, and hope it’s the right one.
For the items that I do buy online – computers, printers, cameras – I find that I end up dealing with the manufacturer. And every one of them collects sales tax.
Internet sales weren’t designed to be tax-free. Consumers were supposed to pay the sales tax – generally called a use tax – on the purchases. But few do. So this Marketplace Fairness Act is about the only alternative.
My column appears in The Virginian-Pilot every week, usually on Thursdays. You can see the columns as they are published here, or navigate to them from the PilotOnline.com homepage by clicking on Opinion and then choosing my name at the bottom of the dropdown list. You can also see the columns by liking my Facebook page. Although my column appears weekly, I am not and have never been an employee of The Virginian-Pilot.Follow @vpaige