sales tax stupidity
Sales tax only worked 150 years ago when everything was bought locally, no one ever traveled over 20 miles from where they lived, and it didn't work well even then.
Sales tax nowadays is a joke and a game between the tax collector who constantly dreams up new reasons to pay tax (and new things to pay tax on), and the public, who responds by finding reasons not to have to pay, or simply structuring their affairs so the transaction isn't taxable.
Example: About 20 years ago I formed a Florida corporation to own an airplane that was going to be operated overseas. The airplane never arrived in Florida (it was bought out of state and damaged on the way here), and the company closed, never having taken possession of the aircraft. Undaunted, the state of Florida sent a bill for $1,100 for taxes and tire/battery disposal fees for ESTIMATED tax incurred while the airplane was operated in Florida . . . and they had no idea when or for how long that might have been. It was a simple fishing expedition, and they were hoping someone would be dumb enough to send them a check. We didn't.
Example: Some ten years ago, I got a bill from the New York state sales tax people who decided that I owed them $400 in tax from my business activities in the state of NY. Except I didn't HAVE any business activities in the state of NY - no location, no presence, no customers. I told them so and told them to stop bothering me - again, they too were fishing, hoping someone would be dumb enough to send them a check. I didn't.
Example: I bought a steel building (out of state) and had it built in an "enterprise zone" in Florida. Enterprise zones are are economically depressed areas, and to encourage investment, building materials used there are specifically tax exempted. State of Florida is WATCHING THE ROADS for freight which might be taxable, tracked this shipment to me and sent me a bill for over $3,000 for "unpaid sales tax on building materials used in Florida". Their howls of anguish were wonderful to hear when I showed them the site was in an enterprise zone and they were not, by their own laws, entitled to any of MY money. Yet another fishing expedition.
The ONLY way sales tax can ever work in the US is for there to be ONE RATE nationally, collected by the seller, and under consistent, rational rules. That way no one would have any reason to chose the location of their vendor by sales tax regime (as we often do now, with sales tax rates running from zero to over 10%, depending on location, and with local sales taxes often on top of that).
Guess what - it ain't *never* gonna happen. NO state or local taxing authority is going to give up their current, jealously guarded practice and prerogative of juggling their tax rates and rules when they want to, and as a result, the 44,000+ sales tax jurisdictions in the US are going to remain totally Balkanized forever. People will continue to play cat and mouse with the state and local departments of revenue, and the states will continue to complain about "lost" revenues (which they were never entitled to in the first place). In chaos there is weakness, and I vote to keep the present chaotic system, which will enable me to hang on to as much of my money as I can. If the tax money is going to be wasted, *I* will do it myself instead of letting the fiscally incompetent states do it for me.