(Bob Sullivan) It sounds like one of those crazy rumors you get in an e-mail from a friend: "Did you hear? They're going to tax the Internet!" Only this time, it's true.
The days of tax-free shopping are quickly drawing to a close for all except those willing to drive to places like Delaware or Oregon. A two-front assault on Web shoppers is in full force — Congress is considering legislation that would pave the way for states to force sales tax on point-and-click shoppers, and Amazon.com is making numerous one-off deals with individual states, where it will be collecting taxesno matter what Congress does. Together, these two developments make an Internet sales tax all but inevitable.
For years, brick-and-mortar stores were at an incredible disadvantage to online retailers that could offer tax-free shopping. If you are a fair-minded person, it's hard to muster an argument that this situation — in which online shoppers enjoy a 5 percent to 10 percent "discount" because they point and click instead of drive or walk — was anything but unfair.
On the other hand, despite all the word games being played by all the interested parties — the Senate version of the legislation is called the "Marketplace Fairness Act" — there is only one way to describe why your online shopping bill is about to go up: a new tax.
The National Conference of State Legislatures says states stand to gain $23 billion in new revenue when online sales tax collection kicks in. That's $23 billion the states weren't collecting before, and $23 billion you weren't paying before. Texas and New York residents will pay about $1.8 billion more; Californians, $4.2 billion. That's real money.
To boil it down, Forrester Research says the average U.S. online shopper will soon spend $1,700 annually — so the changes will cost each one about $125 every year.
Read More: NBC News