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California Makes It Easy For Taxpayers To Pay Internet Sales Tax. Yeah, That'll Work

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California may have cut an Internet sales tax deal with Amazon that kicks in this year, but it's still trying to collect last year's taxes. On February 16, the state issued a table for taxpayers to use in estimating how much tax they owe for purchases from out-of-state E-tailers. The table, which assumes Californians spend about 1 percent of their adjusted gross income with Web merchants, is supposed to save taxpayers the trouble of adding up all their online receipts. Yeah, we're sure that's going to work.

Then again, maybe getting it to work isn't the point. This may really just be an attempt to collect more ammunition for lobbying Congress or the courts. It's a lot more convincing to argue that out-of-state E-tailers should be collecting sales taxes (or at least helping out a little) if a state can say, "We tried to get our taxpayers to pay the tax honestly—we even gave them a form and a simple table—and they still won't pay up! But, see, we tried!"