Cliff Goes To Washington DC - Politics = Strange Bedfellows

I received an interesting phone call yesterday. A nice lady named Karen invited me to fly to our nation's capital to lobby elected officials in favor of taxing internet purchases. I am to be a part of the Alliance for Main Street Fairness DC Fly In - other small business owners from around the country are being brought in to tell our stories to legislators.
At first I thought it was a gag because Karen told me all my expenses would be covered, (you know like when you WIN a cruise but they need your credit card # for "verification" and "port taxes"?) She convinced me it was legit and I told her I would talk it over with Julie. That decision took us about 52 seconds - I have never been to DC and this is an opportunity for me to share my strong opinion on an issue near and dear to my heart.


The Issue
Should Michigan and every other state with sales tax require Amazon.com et al to collect and pay sales tax? (NOTE: something like 15 states already have legislation in place, but the Alliance is looking for national legislation.) Many states like MI require that a business have a brick and mortar presence in the state in order to require that they collect and pay sales tax.

Why It Matters
Michigan and other states are missing millions in revenue from the missing sales tax from Amazon and other retail giants selling on the net. Our schools are broke and roads are crumbling and yet this revenue stream is ignored.
This honks me off for TWO reasons in MI. First - Amazon OWNS a brick and mortar biz here in Muskegon: Brilliance Audio - they record and produce books on tape there. They should be paying NOW. Ask any business owner what happens if he or she is late or mis-calculates their sales tax. Why is Amazon allowed to skate?
I also love the irony in a state run by a governor who is all about states rights. He doesn't want the Feds dictating any policy for the Mitten. Well, except when it comes to SALES TAX - he is waiting for Federal action like some kind of tree huggin' greenie!

I was asked to go because of the way I articulated my feelings on this subject. Two weeks ago someone from the Alliance called and asked if I would be willing to record a short message in favor of taxing the internet. I made a couple of notes and laid down my track. They loved it and hence the phone call and the invitation - sometimes it pays to have a big mouth and be passionate about a subject.I will be flying to DC, spending a night at the Liaison Hotel - meeting with legislators to present the case and coming home the next day. Whirlwind tour indeed.



The only sticky wicket in the bunch is the fact that Wal-Mart is a major force behind the Alliance. Since I am no fan of Wal-Mart, I did have a bit of hesitation about participating. Then the phrase about politics making strangers into pals came into my head and I figure, well if Wal-Mart wants to pay for me to go and argue in favor of a level playing field sales tax wise, who I am to turn that down.

So off I go.
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