CBS Sacramento: California may monitor online purchases

CBS SacramentoCBS 13 in Sacramento reports that California’s Board of Equalization is considering hiring “private vendors to track down what you purchase over the Internet.”

The idea is that if the state government knows what a consumer has purchased online, it can make sure the consumer has paid the correct amount of sales tax.

Colorado has implemented a similar program, but earlier this year a federal court granted an injunction preventing the state from enforcing that legislation.

Like most people quoted in the article, we’re alarmed at this potential invasion of consumers’ privacy. Luckily, it appears that the suggestion is so controversial that it has been removed from the agenda for further study.

There’s a much easier, less controversial way for California to begin to recoup the over $1 billion in California sales tax on online purchases that goes uncollected each year: Join the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA) to make it easy for online retailers to collect sales tax for multiple states, and send a message to Congress that it’s time for federal legislation allowing states to require online retailers to collect sales tax.

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