Maine: An Internet Sales Tax Perspective
- Jun 20, 2012 | Susan McLain
One Point of View
Recently the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) released the results of a survey on whether consumers are “for” Internet retailers collecting sales tax on their purchases. The Maine survey suggested that Maine consumers were pro-Internet sales tax collection.
George Smith, of the Morning Sentinel Kennebec Journal, disagrees. George notes that Governor LePage and Congresswoman Pingree, who are in support of federal legislation to require online retailers to collect and remit sales taxes, feel that by doing so they are “leveling the taxing field” for local retailers against Internet retailers.
Another Point of View
However, he also points out that many Maine consumers just cross the border into “no sales tax” New Hampshire, taking business away from Maine retailers as well. He states, “Mainers buy so many things in New Hampshire that I’m surprised the LePage-Pingree plan doesn’t also force New Hampshire businesses to collect Maine’s sales tax.”
George also mentions that Maine law requires consumers to pay use tax on all purchases made that did not collect sales tax at the time of the transaction.
The Other Side of the Internet Sales Tax Coin
While the Internet laws are supposed to be aimed at “leveling the playing field” for local merchants, George points out that “…many of Maine’s successful small businesses now sell their products online, all over the world. Forcing them to collect sales taxes for every state in our nation will be a costly administrative nightmare for them.
Can you imagine the time and expense of calculating sales taxes for each state (including figuring out which items each state taxes), recording and collecting the taxes, and distributing the taxes to each of the 50 states? The expense alone of purchasing the computer software for this will be staggering. Imagine the reporting requirements, the audits and the complexity of this nationwide taxing system, hoisted on the backs of Maine's small businesses.”
NOTE: George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Smith's writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.
Finding a Better Way
Maine businesses don’t have to be caught unaware and unprepared. Automated solutions such as AvaTax are available today to empower businesses to hand the burdens of tax research and rate data over to the experts. Contact Avalara at 877-780-848 or visit www.avalara.com to learn more.