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INTERNET: Enforce tax or repeal it and start over

Letter by Patricia R. Sweeney, Tacoma on April 15, 2013 at 11:34 am with No Comments »
April 15, 2013 11:54 am

A Chicago Tribune editorial (Off the wire, 4-11) supports the notion that “state laws (regarding use taxes on Internet purchases) are hard to enforce.”

We have paid our use tax since arriving in Washington state two years ago (from Idaho, which also has a use tax). This involves requesting a form from the state Department of Revenue and returning it with a list of purchases and a check.

We have not found this particularly hard to do. We keep track of our out-of-state purchases throughout the year. I’m sure other law-abiding people would do this if they knew that the law existed.

Last year I contacted a legislator who had asked for suggestions for balancing the budget. My suggestion: Instead of making it necessary to send for the use tax form, mail one to each household with a reminder every spring.

His response: “Not everyone either knows about the tax or is as honest as you are about this tax. Several years ago a bill to apply the sales tax to out-of-state purchases was voted on by the Legislature. I supported that bill to level the playing field between in- and out-of-state businesses, but it must await action by Congress and other states to make it work.”

This is totally confusing. Why support and pass a law, knowing that it can’t be “made to work”? Why is it necessary to “await action by other states”? If you can’t enforce it, repeal it and start over!

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