Cyber Monday tax-free, for now

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Are you ready shoppers?

More retailers are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. Thousands of shoppers are camping out for Black Friday sales. The icing on the online shopping cake is Cyber Monday. And yes, you can order cakes, pies and other holiday sweets online.

Adobe’s latest Digital Index Online Shopping forecast indicates that the start of the post-Thanksgiving week will account for $2.6 billion in sales this year, up 15 percent from last year. That assures that Cyber Monday will continue to be the largest online sales day.

Black Friday, however, is close behind.

Instead of dealing the hordes of bargain seekers, more people are electronically shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Adobe says Black Friday is the fastest growing online sales day of the year, with $2.48 billion e-purchases expected this year.

Ease is one reason why online shopping is gaining devotees every day of the year. Another big reason for online shopping’s popularity is tax savings.

But this Black Friday and Cyber Monday could be the last ones that are tax-free.

Online sales tax collection growing

Amazon is now collecting taxes on shipments to 23 states. More states are passing wide-ranging e-sales tax laws. And Congress finally is looking seriously at legislation to facilitate nationwide sales tax collection on online purchases.

The Marketplace Fairness Act, which would give states the ability to force out-of-state websites to collect Internet sales tax, easily passed the Senate in 2013. Supporters have been urging House passage, arguing that the measure is needed to help retailers, many of them smaller businesses, compete with online sales outlets.

So far they haven’t had much luck. The latest setback came when House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, killed consideration of the sales tax bill during this lame duck session. Supporters, however, aren’t throwing in the towel.

Business backers of the bill have taken to social media to tout their cause. “Tell your Representatives to support sales tax fairness this year,” tweeted Stephen E. Schatz of the National Retail Federation.

The Alliance for Main Street Fairness also has released a new video showcasing testimonials from national conservative organizations making their case for passage of the legislation.

One last tax-free Cyber Monday

I applaud their enthusiasm and commitment. Realistically, though, the Marketplace Fairness Act folks will have to restart the fight when the 114th Congress convenes in January.

So shoppers looking for sales-tax-free bargains are safe this holiday season. Enjoy. It could be your last.

And remember that technically your online purchases aren’t tax-free. States with sales taxes also have use taxes on their books. This means you’re legally required to pay tax on products you bought tax-free elsewhere, either in person or online, but use in your home state.

I know, I know. The refusal to pay use taxes is strong among most consumers. Very few volunteer to pay use taxes to their state tax collectors.

But it’s that attitude that’s driving the push for a nationwide online sales tax law. Once it is eventually enacted, you’ll only have yourselves to blame.

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Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book “The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes” and co-author of the e-book “Future Millionaires’ Guidebook.”