Further Upsetsy

Thursday’s item on that proposed “Internet sales tax” drew a sharp response from Mark Alger, who declared it wholly unconstitutional based on a passage from Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution: “No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.”

He expands on this reasoning thusly:

Congress does not have the authority to permit the states to collect sales taxes on goods traveling between states. Note that the actual text of the Constitution refers solely to the goods themselves and make no mention of the location of the businesses or individuals shipping or receiving. Only that the goods be carried out (that’s what “export” means — to carry out) of one state.

And furthermore:

It might be argued that states may collect taxes on goods imported to the several states, except that only Congress has that power, and may not delegate it, and, at least for commerce within the United States, any good imported to one state must first be exported from another, and the taxation of that transaction is forbidden by the above provision.

Bottom line: You can’t enact this scheme without actually amending the Constitution. Then again, relatively few members of Congress pay anything more than lip service to the Constitution, and then only when they need it to support their own positions.


  1. Tatyana »

    27 April 2013 · 1:48 pm

    But that is already happening – everything I buy on Amazon (allowing I might temporarily go out of my mind) will be taxed as if I’d bought it in NYC (not just NY State) – that means +8.875%.
    And even without internet shopping – when I ordered and purchased through phone calls my custom-made bathtub in WI, I was charged the local WI tax (and that on $,200 price tag was quite substantial chunk)

    You think we have a chance to stop it?

  2. McGehee »

    27 April 2013 · 2:55 pm

    The problem with this argument is, the Chief Justice likes the taxing power.

  3. CGHill »

    27 April 2013 · 9:10 pm

    Amazon collects sales taxes in these jurisdictions. New York has been pushing for this sort of thing for quite a while, and passed a measure to force the issue in 2008.

  4. Brian J. »

    27 April 2013 · 9:24 pm

    In this case, I don’t think it’s a tax. It’s a mandate, and Justice Roberts will assure us that’s OK.

  5. Roger Green »

    28 April 2013 · 5:22 am

    Jon Stewart did a segment this week where almost ALL the Bill of Rights are going out the door. What is this “Constitution” of which you speak?

  6. Tatyana »

    28 April 2013 · 6:58 am

    Yeah, Chaz, we know, we feel it in our wallets. Soon everybody will.

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