House Bill 1388 by Representative Dan Douglas should get the award for the creepiest Arkansas legislation of 2017. It is big brother legislation collecting information about your buying habits!
Under the legislation, when you buy an item from an out of state seller (who doesn’t have any facilities in Arkansas), the seller would be required to send information about you and your purchases to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA). They want the information, so DFA can track you down and demand you pay a use tax on the item you bought out-of-state. The legislation would require the out-of-state seller to identify:
- Your name
- The total amount you spent at the store during the calendar year; and
- Each delivery or shipping address you had the items sent.
The legislation may sound simple but it has many flaws. Worse, it is a creepy big brother like plan.
Learning about you from where you buy. When you buy from a big company like Amazon the fact you shopped there doesn’t reveal much about you. But shopping from other stores may tell more about you than you want to share with big brother government.
Let’s say you make a purchase from a website of a presidential candidate, a conservative or liberal organization, an environmental group, a home school supply store, a hunting supply store, a medical supply company, etc. Even without knowing what you bought at the store, just knowing the store tells government about your views and condition.
Heck, what about the government knowing about someone’s bedroom habits based on where the person shopped? Bet that would bring a laugh for DFA employees looking at the list of where you shop!
You wouldn’t stand for the government having a record of where you shop in Arkansas, why would you allow it for out-of-state purchases.
We just spent months hearing about the leaking of emails and government documents and about computer hacking. Why would we want to give Arkansas government more information about us.
Watching where your purchases are shipped. Lets say you want to buy a gift for your Aunt Jane and have it shipped to her in time for her birthday. Her address would be included in the government file. When DFA tries to collect the use tax on your purchases, DFA can hound, not only you, but also your Aunt Jane to whom you had the gift delivered.
Proving your purchases are not fully taxable. HB1388 would give DFA the total amount of your purchases from an out-of-state store, but one of the many flaws in the legislation is – you can’t blindly apply Arkansas’ 6.5% tax rate to the full amount of your out-of-state purchase. Arkansas law exempts some of your purchases and not all purchases are taxed at the same rate.
- Arkansas specifically exempts some items, such as medical equipment.
- Arkansas has a sales tax holiday on the first Saturday in August on clothes and back to school items.
- Arkansas only taxes food at 1.5%. Did you know you can buy groceries and gourmet food from Amazon and other out-of-state sellers?
Do you think DFA will just take your word you shouldn’t be taxed on the full amount of your purchases? No, you will end up having to reveal to DFA what you purchased to claim an exemption or reduced rate Again, you wouldn’t stand for government having that personal information on your in-state purchases. Why would you allow it for your out-of-state purchases?
Enforcement on out-of-state sellers. We think the legislation is also an unconstitutional burden on out-of-state sellers and it even tries to catch someone selling a few crafts out of their house, but we don’t need to go into that in this article.