Ryan Rauschenberger, North Dakota Tax Commissioner (R) spoke with Prarie Public today and had some very revealing things to say. The subject matter was about internet retailers and sales taxes. Currently, online retailers only pay sales taxes to states where they have a physical presence. Ryan Rauschenberger didn’t say anything surprising; it’s something you would expect the chief tax collector would say.
In an interview with Dave Thompson of Prarie Public, Rauschenberger said he hopes Congress or the courts will start allowing states to collect sales taxes from Internet retailers. The most insidious part of the interview is the impetus for the push to collect more taxes.
“It’s not a matter of revenue generation. It’s more a fairness issue between local brick and mortar retal stores and on-line. We need to make sure there’s a level playing field, so our local Main Street shops are on that same playing field.”
Taxes For The Sake Of Taxes
Not that he is a champion of liberty, but there is a lot of truth to Supreme Court Justice John Marshall’s quote, “The power to tax is the power to destroy.” Rauschenberger unwittingly exposes the nefarious and vitriol the state has against productivity. It might be even worse that the top tax collector is so nonchalant about his agenda. Is it acceptable that taxes are levied for “non-revenue” purposes and picking winners and losers? If taxes are not for the sole purpose of revenue for government services then what exactly are they?
Where does the money go Ryan? Regardless of the doublespeak, the hypothetical online sales taxes collected goes into The Taxman’s pocket. Even if the amount collected is a minuscule $0.01, it still goes into the budget where Ryan Rauschenberger’s salary comes from. Hyperbole? Not so much. Of course, he didn’t say, “give me a raise,” but if the state has more money, it will go to those on the payroll. Want to see a bigger Tax Department? Raise more taxes. Much moral hazard.
On economic grounds, the situation is as follows. We currently have money kept in the hands of online retailers and online consumers, pretty damn efficient. There are limited disruptions between online retailers and online consumers. However, those on the government payrolls would like to wedge themselves, between consumers and online retailers. That is the opposite of efficient, especially since the tax levied is for “non-revenue” purposes. This is a pick-pocket.
Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Ryan Rauschenberger
I don’t drink, but there should be a drinking game where every time a progressive uses the phrase, “level playing field” or “fair competition” you take a drink of gasoline. This type of economic ignoramus talk throws the baby out with the bathwater. Besides the point of government picking winners and losers, does it make sense to strive for a world that is level, fair, or equal? Would individuals be better off in a world where there is a ceiling for innovation, efficiency, and quality?
Rauschenberger says that this hypothetical tax in the end run is just government looking out for us. It is Mr. Rauschenberger’s belief this tax would protect our local main street shops. It bewilders me how levying a new sales tax is the solution to the “problem” of an “unequal” playing field caused by brick and mortar stores paying sales taxes online retailers are not. Does that make any sense? Could we try rolling back taxes that artificially create a market inequalities? If Ryan cares about local and main street shops like he says he does, he should advocate for fewer taxes all around and tell his buddies in Bismarck to spend less. After all, there is nothing charitable about being the playground bully and finding new targets under the guise of “fairness” or “parity.”