Guest Op Ed: Proposed internet sales tax bad for New York

New Yorkers were recently awarded a dubious distinction; residents of the Empire State were found to be the most highly taxed people in the United States.

Now, if Governor Andrew Cuomo has it his way, he will continue to nickel and dime New Yorkers even further by enforcing a tax to help generate the revenue needed to fund his bloated and reckless state budget.

This time, we’ll be subject to a sales tax on purchases from large online merchants like Amazon, Apple and Walmart, which do over $100 million in sales, simply because they have some physical presence in New York.

Not only will this sales tax take a bite out of your bank account, but it will also infringe on your privacy. Under the legislation, these online merchants would be required to turn over the names of New York residents who make purchases on their web sites to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

Requiring private online marketplaces to turn over such lists is not only an invasion of privacy, but also an overreach by government.

In addition, there remain numerous legal questions as to whether the tax is even constitutional. Earlier this year, the nation’s Supreme Court agreed to hear a lawsuit brought against the state of South Dakota on a similar tax that was recently implemented.

States like Massachusetts, Indiana and Maine have also had to learn the hard way that these internet sales taxes don’t work, having been saddled with multiple costly lawsuits as a result of the legislation.

Finally, this type of tax would send a clear message to all internet retailers: New York State is closed for business! Because the proposal applies to those marketplaces with a physical presence in our state, New Yorkers will kiss thousands of well-paying jobs goodbye.

Why would any of these 21st century companies want to locate their warehouses and distribution centers here if they will be forced to serve as tax collectors for the state and be burdened with additional record keeping?

Currently, Amazon has plans to build a fulfillment center on Staten Island which will create 2,250 full time positions, as well as employ 700 builders during its construction.

The retail giant has also named several other New York City locations as contenders to house its massive second headquarters. Unfortunately all of these projects, which would do a world of good for New York’s economy, could be jeopardized by Governor Cuomo’s proposal.

In short, this proposal is bad for the consumer, bad for our state’s economic climate and seems to only benefit the tax-and-spend politicians in Albany. Certainly, these are all things that will be at the forefront of my mind as I continue to fight this tax in Albany.

Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis represents the 64th Assembly District in Staten Island and Brooklyn.


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