Docucopies.com's Revolt Seems Taxing –MichelsonAugust 2012
One of the advantages to buying products online has been the ability, in many cases, to avoid paying state sales tax on e-commerce transactions—as long as the provider doesn't have any physical presence within the buyer's state. But, as federal and state governments continue to search for new revenue streams in response to soaring deficits, it's a safe bet that Congress will pass a national uniform standard—sooner rather than later—that will require all Internet-based providers to collect sales tax on every transaction they process.
Amazon has been embroiled in legal battles with California the past few years over the state sales tax issue, but the online retail giant is backing off on its stance as it opens up distribution centers and warehouses there and in other states to enable same-day delivery. In exchange for the new jobs created by those expansions, Amazon has been able to negotiate delays in collecting sales taxes within some of those locations, until some form of federal legislation is enacted.
An online digital printing company, Docucopies.com, is also taking a hard-line stand against California's sales tax. Headquartered in Wisconsin, Docucopies.com recently opened a production center in San Luis Obispo, CA, to drastically cut delivery times to West Coast clients.
As an act of defiance (and perhaps a brilliant PR move, given all the publicity they've received), Docucopies.com even had the cojones to issue a press release announcing that it will stop collecting California sales tax on jobs delivered to customers located in the Golden State.
"We help schools, small businesses, non-profits and even government agencies save tens of thousands of dollars while bringing more money into the San Luis Obispo community," argued David Pressley, Docucopies.com president and CEO. "We don't think it's fair to ask these customers to carry the burden of sales tax when it was the governing bodies, not the private sector, who got themselves into this budget problem in the first place."
That may be true, Mr. Pressley, but it's unfair to brick-and-mortar print shops in California that must charge state sales tax. A lower-cost, nearby state like Nevada might have been a better locale to open your new facility. And, gambling is legal there—enabling a safer bet than trying to bluff what will end up as a losing hand. In 1789, Ben Franklin—printing's patron saint—wrote, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Franklin didn't envision e-commerce, but he was savvy enough to know that death and taxes remain eternal.
Mark T. Michelson