Sten Wilson’s – Roanoke Times Rebuttal

Sten had something posted in the Roanoke Times, a VERY MFA-friendly paper.  Clearly, Sten had some editing help before, or by the paper’s editors because it was the least-rambling and random word salad I’ve seen from him.  Written clearly doesn’t mean it’s not full of falsehoods and half-truths, but it wasn’t as painful to read as his posts usually are.


Sten is as qualified to talk about the challenges we face as small ecommerce retailers as I am to talk about brain surgery.

Sten has no qualifications to speak of the destructive impact this flawed legislation will have on our business. He has a token website that only takes paypal, has probably virtually ZERO sales, has no other online sales channels and has admitted in a previous post a couple years ago his total revenue even including local and fair sales in person is less than $50k. He does not know what he’s talking about. The combination of actual hard costs and soft costs will cripple our business. The new audit risks will have me reconsider my business completely, and was the topic of my op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in August of 2013.

Instead of trying to foist the MFA on us, try actually addressing the problems covered by the House Judiciary committee regarding the legislation’s flaws. But instead, Wal-mart Womack and the others are trying to push through this big-box retail funded bill at all costs, truth be damned.

As far as Sten’s piece – way more polished than his usual copy and paste comments. Clearly edited by someone. David?

Let’s just cover a few of his comments in this piece.
“and continues to advocate for greater efficiencies for all retailers” – Thanks, we’re efficient at the moment. Having 45 more states to report to, be audited by and subjected to… doesn’t make us more efficient. Rarely does legislation make any business more efficient.

“Everyone seems to think that online sales tax collection is about large online companies, like Amazon, trying to crush small online businesses” – because it is. The main funding from these astroturf PR campaigns come from Wal-mart, Best Buy, Home Depot and other big box retailers.

“Just over two years ago” – the timing on when he started using Taxcloud is suspect, he’s been shilling for MFA and Taxcloud longer than that. He’s in a press release with Taxcloud more than 3 years ago.

“All of which leads me to the reason why I’m supporting the Marketplace Fairness Act, a bill that would grant states’ rights to require online sellers to collect sales tax, and hold them harmless for any errors that may occur.”

Layers of falsehoods in this statement. States already have the right to collect the unpaid use taxes from their own citizens and have not made a serious effort to try. It’s not politically popular. It’s more palatable to the states to make retailers across the country unpaid tax collectors for them instead.

re: hold them harmless for errors – utterly false, a lie. Retailers are fully responsible for errors, only a small safe harbor exists for a CSP’s software calculating incorrectly. Not covered: misclassified items, any other kinds of errors and even that safe harbor has significant limitations on who qualifies.

The “simplifications” are a farce, minor, token efforts at simplification at best.


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