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Fighting the sales tax: Shaheen, Sununu push back

June 30. 2018 9:37PM

It might be 46 against one, but New Hampshire is ready for a fight.

The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision upholding a South Dakota law requiring out-of-state online retailers to collect its sales tax for it has united the Granite State.

Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has been fighting the "Marketplace Fairness Act" since she got to Washington. This bill would specifically authorize states to collect internet sales taxes. But as Shaheen says, the court did what Congress didn't.

Shaheen plans to introduce legislation overturning the court's internet sales tax decision. That's a long shot. There are 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, with sales taxes that are counting on out-of-state revenue. Only the most tax-averse politicians mind raising taxes on someone else's constituents.

Shaheen may have better luck exempting small businesses, who would otherwise have to comply with varying sales tax rates and rules from more than 12,000 taxing jurisdictions.

At the state level, Gov. Chris Sununu wants to bring the Legislature back into special session to empower him to enact legal and logistical barriers should other jurisdictions attempt to collect sales taxes here. It's a good idea, though we could warn that special sessions can become runaway trains unless leadership is disciplined.

Online sales taxes are a logistical nightmare for small online retailers. Sununu wants to require other states to adopt compliance thresholds to shield small online retailers from these costs.

Sununu would force taxing jurisdictions to go through the New Hampshire Department of Justice before collecting any taxes here. He would probably like to send state troopers after them in the spirit of Gov. Meldrim Thomson. Alas, another problem with online taxes.

The court's flawed decision will allow states to export their bad tax policies across state lines. If other states want to punish themselves with a sales tax, so be it. We know better.

While Massachusetts recently made its one-day sales tax holiday permanent, this fight should remind shoppers that every day is a sales tax holiday in New Hampshire.

We stand with Shaheen, Sununu, and the growing coalition that has not yet begun to fight against internet sales taxes.

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