Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The NY Sun...Making Sense?

Well, its not one of the two eyes... Israel, Immigration.

The Amazon Tax

Editorial of The New York Sun
May 22, 2008

Just in time for Father's Day and the summer beach reading season, Governor Paterson and his allies in the State Senate and Assembly are taking aim at New York's readers, imposing a new sales tax on books bought from the online retailer Amazon.com. New Yorkers who have bought books on Amazon recently are seeing the notice, "Important Messages: Due to a new law recently passed by the State of New York we are required to collect NY sales taxes on taxable items sold by Amazon.com on or after June 1st, 2008. If your order is placed prior to June 1st, your Order Total may not include an estimate of NY sales taxes, but those taxes may still be charged if your order is readied for shipment on or after that date."

We'd recommend Amazon illustrate the notice with photographs of Governor Paterson, Assembly Speaker Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Bruno, so that New York book buyers know exactly whom to blame. Under what logic, we wonder, does the state, or for that matter, the city impose no sales tax at all on clothing or footwear costing $110 or less, but impose the full 8.375% tax on books? Why should the Bible be taxed or books for children learning to read be taxed, but a $100 silk necktie or bikini go tax-free? New York also imposes no sales tax on wood, wood pellets, and compressed wood products used for heating purposes, meaning that if a tree is cut down and it is split it into firewood, then sold, no sales tax applies, but if the tree is turned into paper and used for a novel or a prayer book, it is taxed.

The Wall Street Journal issued a column yesterday arguing for taxing books sold on Amazon.com. It argued that tax free Internet shopping disproportionately benefits upscale citizens — i.e., the Wall Street Journal's core readership demographic — because such citizens are most likely to shop online. It claims that the absence of the tax "hurts parks and schools." Balderdash. Even without an Amazon tax, New York has managed to spend more money on its schools than most other jurisdictions in the country, and still have such mediocre results that many New Yorkers decide not to use the government-owned schools. It has also managed to fund parks — from Central Park and Prospect Park to the Adirondacks and the Long Island beaches — that they are the envy of the nation.

The Journal column argues that failure to impose the tax benefits "billionaire Internet moguls." But the people the tax's current absence really benefits are book-buyers and authors and the publishing business, which has some of the narrowest profit margins in all of industry, and, in case the state's politicians failed to notice, is largely based in Manhattan. It benefits readers of all income levels who thirst for knowledge and find the Internet the easiest way to shop for books.


The American Revolution began in part as an uprising against a Stamp Act that imposed a tax on books. The lawmakers in Albany and the New York City council have poured billions of dollars into funding libraries and schools in an effort to encourage reading and literacy among both children and adults. So on top of everything else the idea of imposing a new tax on books bought from a major online retailer is counterproductive. Amazon is challenging the tax in court, where it will be nice to see the company's power harnessed to confront Messrs. Paterson, Silver, and Bruno with the injustice of the kind of taxes they want to impose on those who use the Internet.

Interesting that the Wall Street Journal is supporting the tax....do they even try to maintain the sham that it was the WSJ has ever been conservative in any meaningful sense? I mean, at least NY Sun tries..

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