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Libertarians Press Fight Against Expanded Sales Tax

6/25/2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Tim O'Brien
(248) 591-3733
(313) 562-5778

LANSING. The Libertarian Party of Michigan continued its fight on behalf of Michigan Internet users (called "Netizens" by cyberspace insiders) as party chair Michael Corliss testified against the "Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Administration Act" before the House Tax Policy committee last Thursday.

The bill (aka SB-433) would send four representatives from Michigan to a National Conference of State Legislatures meeting to negotiate a multi-state agreement to provide for interstate collection and remittance of sales and use taxes.

Although Libertarians are opposed in principle to the idea, the party chair kept his testimony to constitutional and practical arguments against the bill.

"The Michigan Constitution specifically gives you [the legislature] the power to levy and collect taxes," observed Corliss. "I believe if this bill is adopted you'll be turning over your taxing authority," he said. The bill would give power to the four appointed Michigan representatives to negotiate a model sales and use tax system, a unified standard that would be a necessary part of the agreement. Further, the administration of the reciprocal tax system would ultimately be handed over to private companies.

He was especially concerned that the elimination of caps and exclusions could set the stage for Michigan to expand application of its 6% tax to services and possibly even food and medicine.

Corliss also noted that the bill was written in such a way as to insure that the appointment of all four Michigan representatives to the September NCSL meeting would be made by Republicans -- a concern also expressed by Rep. William O'Neil (D-Allen Park).

The LP, long regarded as a non-factor in Lansing because of its minor party status, has turned that independence to its advantage by seeking support for its position on the bill from both sides of the aisle.

"It doesn't matter to me why they vote 'No'," Corliss said. "We just want to see cyberspace continue to grow and prosper as a free trade zone. And," he concluded, "we will work on this issue with anyone from any party who agrees with us on it."

SB-433, strongly supported by the Engler administration, was said to be on a fast track until the Libertarians got actively involved a few weeks ago -- first raising a grass roots groundswell of voter opposition in the form of phone calls and e-mails to legislators, then directly lobbying legislators and testifying at legislative hearings.

It now appears that the momentum has shifted so much that the bill may not even make it out of the House Tax Policy committee. No vote has been scheduled at this time.

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