Appeal for Fair and Equal Taxation of Electronic Commerce



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Appeal for Fair and Equal Taxation of Electronic Commerce
We the undersigned academic specialists in tax policy, having no direct interest in the outcome of the deliberations of the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, are concerned that the Commission may make recommendations for the tax treatment of electronic commerce that are contrary to the public interest.1 We therefore respectfully suggest that any recommendations the Commission makes regarding the sales and use tax should satisfy all four of the following general principles, which are consistent with a variety of specific proposals:
1. Electronic commerce should not permanently be treated differently from other commerce. There is no principled reason for a permanent exemption for electronic commerce. Electronic commerce should be taxed neither more nor less heavily than other commerce.
2. Remote sales, including electronic commerce, should, to the extent possible, be taxed by the state of destination of sales, regardless of whether the vendor has a physical presence in the state. In limited cases, where it is impossible to determine the destination of sales of digital content to households, it may be necessary to substitute a surrogate system. In no case should taxation of remote commerce or electronic commerce be limited to origin-based taxation, which would induce a “race to the bottom” and, in effect, no taxation at all.
3. There must be enough simplification of sales and use taxes to make destination-based taxation of sales feasible. Such simplification might include, for example, unification of the tax bases across states, unification of tax rates within states, and/or sourcing of sales only to the state level, as well as simplification of administrative procedures.
4. A means must be found to eliminate burdens of compliance on sellers making only small amounts of sales in a state. These might include software-based systems made available at state expense, more realistic vendor discounts, and/or de minimis rules.
[This statement does not represent the position of the institutions with which the signatories are associated.]

Name

Affiliation

Henry Aaron


Brookings Institution


James Alm


Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University


John E. Anderson


University of Nebraska


Ashish Arora


Carnegie Mellon University


Alan Auerbach


University of California, Berkeley


Reuven S. Avi Yonah


Harvard Law School


Dave Babbel


Wharton School; University of Pennsylvania


Roy Bahl

Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University

Charles L. Ballard


Michigan State University


Marion S. Beaumont


California State University, Long Beach


Robert Berne


New York University


B Douglas Bernheim


Stanford University


Marsha Blumenthal


University of St. Thomas


William T. Bogart


Case Western Reserve University


John Bowman


Virginia Commonwealth University


David F. Bradford


Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, and

New York University School of Law

Jeffrey R. Brown


Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government


Neil Bruce


University of Washington


Karl E. Case


Wellesley College


Howard Chernick


Hunter College, City University of New York


Robert Chirinko


Emory University


Charles Clotfelter


Duke University


Julie H. Collins


University of North Carolina   Chapel Hill, Kenan Flagler Business School


Joseph J. Cordes


George Washington University


Gary Cornia


Brigham Young University


Paul Courant


University of Michigan


Steven G. Craig


University of Houston


Julie Berry Cullen


University of Michigan


Martin David


University of Wisconsin


Peter Diamond


Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Larry DeBoer


Purdue University


Thomas Downes


Tufts University


William Dumcombe


Syracuse University


Richard Dye


Lake Forest College


Robert Ebel


World Bank


Daniel Feenberg


National Bureau of Economic Research


William F. Fox


University of Tennessee


Don Fullerton


University of Texas


William Gale


Brookings Institution


William M. Gentry


Columbia University


J. Fred Giertz


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Malcolm Gillis


President, Rice University


Tim Goodspeed


Hunter College, City University of New York


Austan Goolsbee


University of Chicago


Roger H. Gordon


University of Michigan


Larry Goulder


Stanford University


Jonathan Gruber


Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Daniel Halperin


Harvard Law School


Arnold C. Harberger


University of California, Los Angeles


Joseph E. Harrington, Jr.


The Johns Hopkins University


Richard Hawkins


University of West Florida


Walter Hellerstein


University of Georgia Law School


Douglas Holtz-Eakin


Syracuse University


Glenn Hubbard


Columbia University


Robert P. Inman


Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania


William R. Johnson


University of Virginia


Kenneth Judd


Hoover Institution, Stanford University


Daphne A. Kenyon


Simmons College


Laurence Kotlikoff


Boston University


Helen F. Ladd


Duke University


Arik Levinson


Georgetown University


Andrew B. Lyon


University of Maryland


Louis J. Maccini


The Johns Hopkins University


Brigitte Madrian


University of Chicago


Jorge Martinez


Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University


Michael J. McIntyre


Wayne State University Law School


Charles McLure


Hoover Institution, Stanford University


Gilbert E. Metcalf


Tufts University


Bruce D. Meyer


Northwestern University


Peter Mieszkowski


Rice University


John L. Mikesell


Indiana University-Bloomington


Robert A. Moffitt


The Johns Hopkins University


Alicia H. Munnell


Boston College


Peggy Musgrave


University of California-Santa Cruz


Richard A. Musgrave


Harvard University, emeritus


Dick Netzer


New York University


William Oakland


Tulane University


Wallace Oates


University of Maryland


Oliver Oldman


Purdue University


Edgar O. Olsen


University of Virginia


James A. Papke


Purdue University


Jon M. Peha


Carnegie Mellon University


George A. Plesko


Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Thomas F. Pogue


University of Iowa


Antonio Rangel


Stanford University


Andrew Reschovsky


University of Wisconsin Madison


Raymond J. Ring, Jr.


University of South Dakota


Diane Lim Rogers


Urban Institute


Michael Rothschild


Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University


Daniel L. Rubinfeld


University of California, Berkeley


Andrew.A.Samwick


Dartmouth College


Laurence Seidman


University of Delaware


Douglas Shackelford


University of North Carolina


Ferdinand P. Schoettle


University of Minnesota


John Karl Scholz


University of Wisconsin, Madison


Robert M. Schwab


University of Maryland


Amy Ellen Schwartz


New York University


Steve Sheffrin


University of California-Davis


Todd Sinai


The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania


David Sjoquist


Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University


Jonathan Skinner


Dartmouth College


Paul Smoke


Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Janet F. Speyrer


University of New Orleans


Eugene Steuerle


Urban Institute


Leanna Stiefel


New York University


Robert Strauss


Carnegie-Mellon University


Holley Ulbrich


Strom Thurmond Institute , Clemson University


Sally Wallace


Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University


Rob Wassmer


California State University – Sacramento


Lawrence Walters


Brigham Young University


Ann Dryden Witte


Wellesley College


John Witte


University of Wisconsin, Madison


George Zodrow


Rice University


C. Kurt Zorn


Indiana University-Bloomington





1 The tax specialists listed had indicated support of this Appeal through January 3, 2000. More names will be added as other tax specialists indicate support.


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