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A Quick Primer on Internet Taxes for President Trump

Yesterday, President Trump fired off another of his off-the-cuff tweets, this time in apparent anger at the Washington Post (which might very well have been warranted).

The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2017

But the president’s tweet implies a great deal of misunderstanding and is therefore providing misinformation about internet taxes, so in the interests of education and enlightenment, here is a quick primer.

  1. Companies do not “pay” internet taxes—they collect internet taxes from consumers and remit them to governments. It’s people—consumers, voters, whatever you want to call them—who pay internet taxes.

  2. Let’s repeat that for emphasis: PEOPLE pay internet taxes, not companies.

  3. Amazon collects internet taxes everywhere it is legally required to do so.

  4. That legal requirement is physical presence, so anywhere Amazon has a physical presence—a warehouse, a corporate office, or a retail location—Amazon collects and remits internet taxes.

  5. Ironically, Amazon has generally been in favor of internet taxation.

  6. The opposition to internet taxes includes a majority of the American people, a majority in Congress, the Constitution, almost all conservative, libertarian and free-market organizations, most consumer groups, and most ecommerce groups.

  7. The Republican platform opposes internet taxes.

  8. The president’s tweet undoubtedly gives aid and hope to the forces that want to impose a nationwide internet tax requirement, which would harm small businesses by not only forcing them to comply with thousands of taxing districts, but also subject them to spurious audits by aggressive tax-collection states like California and New York.

Hopefully, that’s enough to suggest that President Trump’s tweet was not particularly well-informed, and that it would be harmful and counterproductive for him to expand his agenda to include unpopular internet taxes.