Since the dawn of internet commerce in the mid-1990s, cyber-retailers weren’t responsible for collecting states’ sales taxes, giving startups such as a little-known book seller in Seattle called Amazon a leg up on their competition. You could order the latest bestseller or the hottest CD — books and CDs were about the only products Jeff Bezos’ company sold in its early days — and not have your state’s tax assessed at check out.
For a while, bricks-and-mortar retailers barely noticed the presence of online retailers, especially since Amazon’s viability was far from guaranteed with year-over-year losses running into the billions of dollars. But as high-speed internet replaced dialup, as more homes went online and consumers became more cyber-savvy, traditional retailers began to take notice, and one target they zeroed in on quickly was that lack of sales tax collection on online purchases.
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The editorial board
september 29, 2019