No mere tarrifs but an outright ban for NY

I find it astounding that in a world known for a global economy, New York state can impose a ban on advertising products just from out of state. You can read about the law that went into effect this month here: The restrictions apply not only to print forms of advertising but even websites. It seems online ads are acceptable but commissions paid on sales to the website owner who is based in NY would render the ads a form of direct solicitation that is prohibited to vendors that will not collect NY state sales tax.

Of course, many online vendors, such as Lands End, Barnes and Noble, and others add on the sales tax based on where you live. So I paid no sales tax on the clothes ordered when I lived in NJ but do have to pay the Nassau imposed tax now (see that explanation below). But if you order high ticket items from stores that are not registered as vendors in NY, your savings on sales tax, which runs close to 9% for New Yorkers (there is some variation for residents of Nassau County and the 5 boroughs) can be substantial.

The fact of the matter is that there are sales tax variations even within states. For example, NJ has a number of "urban enterprise zone" that offer just 3% sales tax rather than 6. Clothing, in any case, is free of tax. And in NY itself, you may recall the "tax free week," for clothes, then no tax and clothes, then back to tax on clothes, and now limited tax on clothes. As it stands now, for clothing under $110 you pay no sales tax at all -- but only in NYC. If you buy the identical $50 skirt in Nassau county that incurs no tax in Brooklyn, you will have to pay the portion that Nassau county collect, which just tops 4%. So should Nassau now prevent its residents from access to information about stores just over the county border so that the tax revenue would not be lost?

It is true that sales tax does bring in a significant amount of revenue, and retailers have a legal obligation to collect the appropriate sales tax for their region. Nevertheless, a capitalist system thrives on free market conditions with open access and competition. Eliminating the competition through strong arm tactics --whether by a large company obtaining a monopoly or by government impositions -- are not considered favorable to the economic system, and, certainly, not to the consumer who is denied access to all the options available on the market.


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