eBay has entered the arena in opposing US state online sales taxes and is asking sellers to support its campaign by signing a petition. An ongoing court case in the USA (which we’ve written about here) has got all the way to the supreme court. And the highest court in the USA is expected to rule on it over the next few months.
eBay has always supported tax policy that is fair to entrepreneurs, artisans, and small businesses, which are vital to the American economy, and we oppose efforts to impose taxes that would harm these businesses. There has never been a more critical time to stand against new and unfair Internet taxes. The U.S. Supreme Court will make a decision in the coming weeks that could give states the right to tax every small business on the Internet.
– Scott Cutler, SVP Americas Marketplace, eBay
Around the world internet sales taxes, especially where goods are crossing borders, are increasingly being considered by legislators and governments. In recent weeks, we’ve reported that one such tax will soon come into force in Australia and it is a very strong possibility that New Zealand will also be bringing one in next year. And, of course, the UK government and tax authority has been making efforts to ensure that overseas sellers (and also domestic sellers, for that matter) are paying what the VAT they’re liable for.
The various reasons are unsurprising. A sales tax is attractive to a government (whether national or a state tax) because it raises much needed revenue for official coffers. But, when it involves national governments and imports, the motivation is more protectionist. It’s a about creating what they seem to often call a “level-playing field” for local and offline enterprises.
It’s by no means certain that the Supreme Court will even make a ruling on the case regarding US state online sales taxes. At a recent hearing, several of the senior justices expressed their concern that this was not a judicial matter but better handled by Congress because the issue is so complex.