The Magical Math of Sales Tax Advocates

Despite Amazon, the great boogeyman, having sales tax deals in every sales tax state, we keep hearing whining that The Internet Is Killing Us. Now they’re using magical math to ‘prove’ it.

The thesis at hand, by Lydia DePillis at the Houston Chronicle, is that Internet retail sales are hurting state and local government due to allegedly lost sales tax revenue.

Now, DePillis has a long track record of being in the pocket of retail union activists, and thus an interest in puffing up local retail over Internet retail. And so I imagine this horrible talking point came straight from a union advocate.

The numbers sure don’t back up her claim that Texas is leaving money on the table from lax sales tax enforcement. Look at her own chart:


First off, there’s no scale. Second, her linked source doesn’t give her listed metropolitan data. Third, she even gives perfect explanations for the revenue drops as being entirely unrelated to the Internet.

So, with the complete failure of the facts to back up her argument, she goes on to say:

Clearly, economic cycles have a more powerful impact on sales taxes than leakage from online sales. Still, the state may be leaving tens of millions of dollars on the table each year, which turns out to matter when legislators are looking to plug holes in the budget.

We have zero evidence for this ‘leakage’ given. It’s mythical math pushed by unions in order to create union jobs at the expense of high tech innovation by Amazon and other companies.