sdc100 wrote:Well, it obviously not "very clear" to my accountant or Amazon, or the court hearing the case. Part of Amazon's argument is that they should not be compelled to collect the tax because they don't have a physical presence in NY. And my accountant has certainly never asked me to tally up out of state purchases even though he is anal about saving receipts and paper trails. We've gone through 3 personal accountants (from different firms) since 2003 and not one has raised the issue. Nor has my business accountant regarding equipment bought out of state.
The fact that Amazon has a pending case, and my accountants have never brought it up implies that it's less clear cut than your perception. I will agree that NY State claims that it's clear cut, but I'll let the courts and my accountants to decide that.
As for cheating, I'll again point out that my out-of-state Woot purchases is pretty much public knowledge. By clicking on the square below my name, anyone can plainly see that I have "50-99 Woots" (97 to be exact). And if that isn't revealing enough, these many posts explicitly state that I live in New York and have never paid sales tax on Woot. The tax authorities have auditors, so if they feel I'm cheating, all the evidence is there for them to see. I certainly don't feel that I've cheated.
Well, it's getting late, and a lot of Wooters seem to care a lot about this, so here's my 3 cents (inflation, you know):
You made a lot of good points there. There was a case (Quill vs. North Dakota or something like that), wherein a precedent was established that mail-order businesses were not compelled to collect sales tax for states in which they had no nexus. Recently, some states such as New York have been rethinking that, since they would like to collect more tax (it's mostly a matter of self-interest - governments want tax, consumers don't want to pay tax, web vendors want the advantage and convenience of not collecting tax, and brick-and-mortar vendors don't want web vendors to have that advantage).
Some vendors ignored New York and refuse to collect the tax. Others collect it, and still others "fired" their New York affiliates before refusing.
Note that, from a purely legal point of view, there are 2 issues: whether a business is compelled to collect the tax, and whether the consumer is obligated to pay it.
The Quill decision never meant that consumers weren't supposed to pay the tax. But no one made much of an effort to collect it. Then, as someone mentioned, New York State added a line to their tax return. Most people ignored it, but some paid because they felt it was the right thing to do, or to avoid trouble if they were somehow caught underreporting. New York got so little money from this that they stepped up the pressure. leading to the Amazon lawsuit.
I should also mention that some posters argued "Woot doesn't charge the tax; they just collect it." to them I say, "give us a break!" We all know that; it's simply a way of speaking.
Finally, the one point you made (actually implied) that I don't agree with is that your Woot purchases are "public," so you're not cheating. Note that I'm not saying that you are cheating; I've already said this is a complicated issue. But whether you let others (tax offices or anyone else) know about your purchases does not determine whether you owe tax on them. You said the Post Office knows what you've bought. The IRS has no responsibility to communicate with the Post Office. Imagine what would happen if someone attached a letter to his state tax return that said "I bought $2000 worth of stuff from Woot, but I'm not paying tax on it, since I think I shouldn't have to.