Obama’s SBA spent $80,000 in taxpayer money on study to promote Internet sales tax

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There’s wasteful spending and then there’s wasteful spending, Chicago-style. File this under the latter. To translate the bureaucrat-ese at the link for you, this is an award notice for an $80,000 contract from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to study “Internet Sales Taxation and Small Online Retailers.” In service of the PR campaign for President Obama’s and Senator Dick Durbin’s favorite Internet sales tax law, the SBA decided to fork over $80,000 of taxpayer money to…(drumroll please)…the very people who have been writing studies in favor of the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA)! What a coincidence!

And by coincidence, I mean unconscionable outrage. In a recent R Street Institute-National Taxpayers Union commissioned poll, 57 percent of Americans said that they oppose the kind of Internet sales tax scheme contained in the Marketplace Fairness Act. Knowing that it’s tough to overcome public opinion when it is uniformly arrayed against them, the retail lobby that seeks passage of MFA to handicap online competitors has spent millions to propagandize in favor of the bill on Capitol Hill where big money can help muddy the waters. It now appears that they have some taxpayer-funded allies in Obama’s Small Business Administration.

The study itself is relatively unremarkable since it simply rehashes matters that have been discussed ad nauseam in the world of people who pay close attention to these issues. In fact, the most important passage essentially concedes that having a higher small seller exception in the bill “does not add measurably to the covered share of total online retail.” In other words, protecting a larger number of businesses from the onerous compliance obligations of MFA wouldn’t appreciably reduce revenues. In a shocking oversight, the study includes only one passing mention and exactly zero analysis of the tax audit and demand letter threat faced by businesses that sell remotely. And of course, it never grapples with the very real constitutional questions surrounding the bill, including whether or not it’s a violation of the due process clause regardless of the existence or dollar amount of a small seller exception.

What’s interesting about it isn’t the content, then, but the campaign to promote it and to use it as support for passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act. A little birdy forwarded me an email from an SBA staffer addressed to a laundry list of MFA supporters, apparently looking to give them ammo for their efforts to get the bill passed and even going so far as to include sample Tweets to help them promote the study. And for the record, it’s not like SBA was just sending this out to everyone who works on this issue. I’ve been involved in trying to protect businesses small and large from the negative impacts of such Internet sales tax laws for years, much to my chagrin, but I sure as heck didn’t receive an email notifying me about the study’s release from the office of SBA’s Chief Counsel for Advocacy like MFA supporters did. Why is that, exactly?

Big business lobbyists have already poured millions of dollars into pushing an Internet sales tax bill to knee-cap their competition. They sure didn’t need another $80,000 swiped from taxpayers’ wallets to help make their case.

  • ahmet barkuş

    Thanks you ; Mr CURZ ;
    Bakınız iyi bir noktaya degindiniz bu yönden bende düzeltilmesi gereken bir durum olarak düşünüyorum siz konuyu açtınız bu konuda durum saptırması var bana her gün yüzlerce bu konuda Email geliyor bazen bini aştıgıda oluyor ben daha öncede bu tür sahtecilik olsun aldatma olsun bildigimden izin vermiyorum bakınız bundan hemen hemen birbuçuk yıl oluyor bu tür teklifler için hatta başkana bile yazdım Email mevcuttur İnternet kullanımı yönünden bir komisyon ayarlansın çalışanlar paylarını alsınlar benim payımıda bana aktarsınlar demiştim baktım hep benim aleyhime oluyor bu güne kadar bir dolar dahi almadım diger şirketlerde yüzde pay ortaklıgım var bunlardanda almadın bakın USA dışında bazı bankalarda almam gereken yüklü miktarda paralarım var öyle duruyor masraf ücretini yatırıp transfer edemiyorum çok bozuk bir durum diyorlar banka hesabına aktarıldı sordummu kimseden yanıt alamıyorum
    Bakınız gayet iyi biliyorsunuz hükümetin yaptıgı bozuk durumu benim burdaki hükümetlede bir alakam yok şu anda tam bir rezalet üç yıldır bu rezalet devam ediyor bunun çöülmesini istiyorum komplolardan sahtekarlıklardan karşılaşıyorum miktar çok oluncada her türlü oyun oluyor fakat kendi çevreleri için anında haklı olmadıkları halde işlerini görüyorlar burda bekledigim bir durum vardı bir türlü olmadı bunu anlamıyorum ailevi yönden fakat beklemek istemiyorum bir an öncede bu durumlar bitsin diyorum yapacak çok iş var fakat haklarımı kullanamıyorum bunun içim bu davanın peşini bırakmamak gerek particilik degilde gerçekler için Sizlerle kongreyle devam diyorum Sizlere iyi günler diliyorum .
    AhmetBarkuş

  • Rick

    $80k for a copy and paste job and frankly, a lazy “effort” if you can even call it that.

    What’s funny is that if the number of online retailers affected is only 2%, how can that possibly “level the playing field” for small business when 98% of online retailers would still not be collecting tax.

  • herself311

    #TOLDYA #TOLDYA Confirmed today: Unemployment numbers all faked AND Obamacare website code NEVER EVEN WRITTEN. http://www.barnhardt.biz/2013/11/19/toldya-toldya-confirmed-today-unemployment-numbers-all-faked-and-obamacare-website-code-never-even-written

  • Keith Yockey

    Funny how this study was done by the same people (U of TN) that was just as flawed in 2008 as is released today. They still claim $24B goes untaxed when the true number is less than $4B (Forrester Research study). It fails to address compliance costs and audit risks. Maybe we should ask B&Ms how they would like to file over 600 Sales Tax returns as they are demanding online to do. Fair and Equal? I don’t think so.

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