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Ramsey Questioned on Use Tax Payments by TN Liberty Group

Press release from the TN Campaign for Liberty; May 13, 2013:

Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Campaign for Liberty challenges Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey to show he has fully paid the Tennessee Use Tax he owes to the Tennessee government. In a comment given to the Commercial Appeal published on May 9th, 2013 Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey stated “I am very much for the Marketplace Fairness Act…It’s not a new tax. It’s a tax you’re supposed to be paying now and you are breaking the law if you don’t.” referring to the Tennessee use tax as if it were the same thing as the statewide sales tax.

“The vast majority of Tennesseans do not pay the TN Use Tax, most don’t know that it exists or even how to pay it” said Matt Collins, a Coordinator with the TN Campaign for Liberty. “We’re willing to bet that like most Tennesseans, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey hasn’t paid all of the use tax that he owes to the Tennessee government for purchases that his household made online. Can he prove otherwise? If not, then it’s the height of hypocrisy to label people as criminals for not paying the very same tax that he himself avoids. He should show the People of Tennessee his Use Tax receipts.”

Lt. Governor Ramsey’s comments were in regards to attempting to sway the Tennessee Congressional delegation to support his push for the national Internet sales tax mandate. It will likely come up for a vote in the US House of Representatives later this year. The bill is known as the “Marketplace Fairness Act” and is being opposed by the Campaign for Liberty, eBay, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, Freedomworks, the Heartland Institute, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, and many other conservative figures.

According to the Tennessee Use Tax website: “If you buy or ship merchandise to your Tennessee address and sales tax is not added to the price, then you are responsible for paying the use tax directly to the TN Department of Revenue….The use tax rate is a combination of the state tax rate of 7% … plus the rate levied by your local government, generally 2.25%. The tax is applied to the purchase price of the merchandise plus any shipping and handling charges that the merchant adds to your bill.”

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Press Releases

TN Conservative, Tea Party Groups Condemn National Internet Sales Tax

Press release from Tennessee Campaign for Liberty; March 21, 2013:

Nashville, Tenn. – Conservative and Tea Party groups across the state of Tennessee have signed a resolution condemning Senator Lamar Alexander, Governor Bill Haslam, and Senator Bob Corker’s push for a national Internet sales tax scheme, known as the “Marketplace Fairness Act” (MFA). Sources close to the Campaign for Liberty indicate that language contained in the Act will be voted on in the US Senate in the next few days. Read the entire resolution and list of signers at www.TNCampaignForLiberty.org

The MFA would seek to overturn a 1992 Supreme Court decision (Quill vs North Dakota) which ruled that businesses that do not have a physical presence in a state cannot be forced to collect sales tax for that specific state government. The Quill decision protects online businesses from having to collect tax for all 50 states, and also prevents taxation without representation by prohibiting state governments from enforcing their laws on business outside of its borders.

The MFA would force each online retailer to create different pricing structures for every individual customer, a massive burden and significant increase in cost to doing business. It’s assumed that these costs would be passed on to the customer, causing the price of all online purchases to increase on top of the new taxes imposed as a result of this Act. These types of regulation would likely be stifling to online commerce and detrimental to the economy overall.

Matt Collins, a coordinator with the Tennessee Campaign for Liberty discusses the issue: “This is reflective of a bigger question, that of how much authority will the government hold during the Internet Age? Will states get to exercise power outside of their borders, or will there be an unlimited reach available to every government? Taxation without representation is always appealing to the politicians because they cannot be held accountable by the people they are taxing. We are at a fork in the road and can move forward with either more freedom, or move backwards with more government; Internet taxation is one of the first steps in deciding which direction we’ll take.”

Free market groups like Cato Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, Nat’l Taxpayers Union, Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, Reason, and even eBay and the Direct Marketing Association are opposing this measure. Liberty activist and professional WWE Wrestler from Strawberry Plains, TN, Glenn Jacobs, authored an opinion piece earlier this week in which he called the Act “fraudulent” and “anything but fair”: http://lewrockwell.com/jacobs/jacobs12.1.html

Political experts suggest this issue may be a point of contention during any potential primary race against Senator Alexander in the 2014 election season.

Matt Collins also noted that “Republican elected officials who are joining Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, and Al Franken to support this measure should know that recent polling shows almost half of Americans do not want an expansion of sales taxes on the Internet and 63% of conservatives are opposed to it. When the question is framed about states pushing their laws outside of their borders 61% of Americans oppose it and 77% of conservatives do too. In fact 84% of Republicans oppose any sort of expansion of governmental power over the Internet, especially taxation or regulation. It is likely that any Republican who supports this massive expanse of government power will see a primary challenge because of it.”

The mission of the Campaign for Liberty is to promote and defend the great American principles of individual liberty, limited government, sound money, free markets, and a Constitutional foreign policy, by means of education, issue advocacy, and grassroots mobilization. The Campaign for Liberty was formed in 2008 after the conclusion of Congressman Ron Paul’s Presidential bid.