As states get less and less money from their tax bases, there is more pressure than ever to begin to take a piece of e-commerce sales. That could turn Amazon (AMZN) and Ebay (EBAY) into tax collectors -- and make shopping online more expensive and less attractive.
One of the advantages online retailers have had over the decade since broadband brought millions of retail customers to the internet is that they could avoid paying local taxes. With the economy in trouble, that could change very soon. According to The New York Post, "This would be fiscal relief for the states that wouldn't require any money from the federal government," said Neal Osten, a senior policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The federal government has too many mouths to feed. Taking some state support off that list would be attractive. The odds that e-commerce will remain "tax less" becomes less likely by the month.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.