Space Ramblings

Amazon Tax War Rages in New York

If there’s one sure thing you can count on in regional politics, it’s that the Federal level politicians from a State will push to kick money and final authority up to the Federal level, while the State politicians will play their role in the tug of war by trying to grab it for themselves. The Amazon tax was one of former Governor Elliot Spitzer’s more maniacal moments, the dubious legislation of a man who thought he could get away with anything and that no law applied to him. His replacement Governor Patterson doesn’t suffer from Spitzer’s megalomania, just the career stupidity of a political hack, and so he’s naturally chosen to back the Amazon tax, despite its blatant illegality.

The best bet for Albany of course is to wait out Amazon and the other sites that have been forced to attach the tax and demonstrate to them that they haven’t lost customers because of the extra payments and hope they’ll drop the case. It isn’t much of a hope though, because going well beyond whether Barry from Long Island will have to pay more for his sheepskin mittens, bookcase or book on sheepskin mittens from, is the state and federal issues that the law raises, issues that affect other states and Washington D.C. Which is why Senator Schumer and Weiner are taking the fairly safe bet of opposing the law and are pushing through a piece of legislation called BAFTA that will ban states from taxing companies that don’t have a physical presence in the state.

Naturally being a few bricks short of a chimney, Governor Patterson is busy pretending the law has nothing to do with that state law which taxes companies that don’t have a physical presence in New York State. Meanwhile Mayor Michael Bloomberg who may have his own ambitions for the governor’s mansion and has never met a tax he didn’t instantly fall madly in love with, is backing Patterson and the Amazon tax. Of course it’s a common enough Federal Vs State matchup. Schumer and Weiner want to assert Federal control. Patterson, Spitzer and Bloomberg are happy to push local control.

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