The Online Sales Tax Rears Its Ugly Head… Again

Americans have been shopping online for 20 years now. What started as a curiosity has become routine and essential for millions of people, and the days when you had to physically track down a copy of a rare book or record have become an increasingly distant memory. The sheer convenience of online shopping is breathtaking, but that very convenience has made sites like as many enemies as they have friends. The retail lobby, infuriated by the discovery of a better business model, have spent years seeking a government solution to their declining sales.

The online sales tax, originally marketed under the misleading name “Marketplace Fairness Act,” has been a continual bugaboo threatening to damage the vitality of the online marketplace since it was first introduced in 2011. Since then, it has emerged multiple times, but has never managed to pass. This is because the MFA is inescapably bad policy that would not only severely damage consumer welfare, but would put the brakes on much of the most vibrant internet innovation and set a bad precedent for American democracy in general.