weather icon Partly Cloudy

STATE BALLOT QUESTION 3 (Internet sales tax)

One thing most people would agree on is that the Legislature sure is persistent.

By nearly a 3 to 1 margin, voters rejected a 2008 ballot question to make it easier for the Legislature to levy sales taxes on Internet sales. Landslide defeat aside, lawmakers put virtually the same question back on this November’s ballot.

In Question 3, voters are asked to let legislators change tax laws “to resolve a conflict with any federal law or interstate agreement” dealing with collection of sales taxes. Currently, the Legislature needs voter approval for such changes.

The intent of the question is to let the state collect sales taxes on Internet purchases made by citizens as soon as possible after Congress gives that authority. Otherwise, Internet sales taxes could not be collected until after voters approve during the next general election. That could be more than a year away.

Nevada could have collected more than $114 million last year in sales taxes on Internet purchases, and the potential take is expected to increase to more than $330 million by 2012, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The federal government now prohibits states from forcing Internet sellers to collect sales taxes except in cases where the seller also has a physical presence in the state.

That is unfair to Nevada businesses, said Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville. His bill to put Question 3 on the ballot passed unanimously.

“To me, this creates a level playing field for our businesses,” he said. “Now we have a situation where Main Street businesses must collect the 7 percent to 8 percent in sales taxes, while e-commerce businesses do not. Give mom and pop businesses a fair chance to compete.”

Congress has rejected several Internet sales tax efforts pushed by states, but U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., in July introduced the Main Street Fairness Act, which is designed to require sales tax collection on all Internet sales.

Nevada Taxation Director Dino DiCianno, the state representative on the Streamlined Sales Tax Project board, said he doesn’t know whether the act will win approval.

But DiCianno pointed out that most states are suffering budget woes and implementation of the act would provide new revenue.

Settelmeyer said voters likely will reject the question again unless businesses, chambers of commerce and others sell voters on the need.

He emphasized that a yes vote is not a vote to increase taxes because the sales tax rates already are in place. He added citizens also have been required by law for years to pay sales taxes on these purchases.

But DiCianno said the state cannot force buyers to pay the taxes.

“It is strictly voluntary,” he said. “The (Main Street Fairness Act) will require those who sell to you to collect the tax up-front and remit it to us.”

If Question 3 is rejected again, Settelmeyer vows to introduce legislation that bars sales taxes on Internet purchases, saying “If it is clear people don’t want it, then why have the law on the books?”

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Week in Pictures: April 28-May4

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Las Vegas Science & Technology Festival, Pirate Fest, weather and Canelo vs. Jacobs. Children play inside a hot air balloon provided by Las Vegas Balloon Rides during the Las Vegas Science & Technology Festival on Saturday, May 4, […]

Week in Pictures: April 21-April 27

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Golden Knights playoffs, Raiders draft and WBA lightweight championship bout. The Meadows School third baseman Sam Kaplan looks in a high ground ball during fielding practice, he will play at Cornell University next year on Wednesday, April 24, […]

Week in Pictures: April 14-April 20

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Golden Knights playoffs and Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend. The Pink Moon, the nickname for April’s full moon, is not pink at all but yellow and sets in the west behind the Raiders Stadium early on Friday, April […]

Week in Pictures: March 17-March 23

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including Vegas Golden Knights, Cesar Chavez Day festival, prep baseball and El Cortez shooting. Brooklyn Ruiz, 10, center, of Redlands, Calif., jumps out of the pool while playing with her cousin, Analyce Lopez, 11, of Redlands, Calif., left, and […]

Week in Pictures: March 10-March 16

Take a look at some eye-catching pictures from Las Vegas Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including the West Coast Conference tournament, the Mountain West tournament and the Pac-12 tournament. The Stanford Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Oregon Ducks during a NCAA college basketball game in the final of the Pac-12 women’s tournament at the […]

Week in Pictures: Jan. 14-20

Take a look at some striking pictures from Review-Journal photographers in the past week, including weather features, a boxing match and the super blood wolf moon. Ronald Holmes plays the alto saxophone on The Strip as dark clouds move in on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Las Vegas. Clouds, rain and snow are expected in […]

7 ways autocomplete can get smarter

Autocomplete is one of the best (or depending on how hastily you push ‘send’ – worst) things in the world. We rely on it so much that Google plans to let us autocomplete whole emails. Here are seven ways predictive input can improve. 1. Recognizing names from previous emails Jakub Kokoszka has a tough name to […]

Movie posters might soon be based on your clicks

You may have thought you left Blockbuster behind, but the basic way we browse movies hasn’t changed all that much. We peruse poster after poster, kind of like walking the aisles of a ‘90s-era video store. That one poster image, meant to appeal to as many people as possible, is often all we see before […]

What I’ll be covering at NAB 2018

The National Association of Broadcasters show kicks off this weekend in Las Vegas.  The show focuses on new and emerging technologies and trends in relation to the media and entertainment industries. As it’s not open to the public, I’ll be at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday to share some of […]