State News

ACLU to argue for Amazon customers in N.C. tax case

Posted October 13, 2010

— The American Civil Liberties Union says it’s fighting for privacy and free speech rights in a lawsuit pitting North Carolina tax collectors against

ACLU lawyers will be in federal court in Seattle on Wednesday. They’re making the case that the North Carolina Revenue Department’s effort to learn what customers bought from Amazon would violate their rights.

The hearing comes in a lawsuit filed by Amazon to stop the tax agency from collecting information about buyers.

The Revenue Department says it doesn’t want details about what kind of books people bought, just whether the purchases were books, CDs or something else.

The state says either Amazon or its customers owe North Carolina $50 million in sales and use taxes on Internet purchases dating to 2003.

Amazon has said it provided the state with details about purchases without identifying which customer bought what. The company maintains that if it is required to turn over names and addresses as well, the state would be able to determine the buying patterns of customers.


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  • rednek Oct 14, 2010

    If all NC is looking for is the tax; it DOES NOT MATTER what is purchased, just the amount of the purchase! Sounds like some agency is just getting very NOSEY!

  • ykm Oct 14, 2010

    Even worse ex: your on your way home from myrtle beach, pay the tax on the gasoline you have remaining in your tank when you cross the state line.

  • Alexia.1 Oct 13, 2010

    hereandnow99, it's not opposing statements, but I admit it sounds that way. Years ago, the software used to ask, "How much did you spend on out of state purchases?" I didn't know, so I would enter 0. Back in 2000, I spent less than $100 on mail-order stuff. Exactly how much, though? I have no idea. What should I put?

    In more recent years, it would first ask if I made any purchases out of state, then ask, "How much?" So, I'd back up and say "no", because I don't know how much. The software would then enter $0.

    It wasn't until this story came out that I learned that if I had proceeded further, there is a formula that would use income to produce an estimate.

    Still, that estimate is wrong. Whatever I enter there is wrong. It's a flawed tax. From reading the law, if one buys a Coke in SC and drives across the line with it, one must pay the difference in tax between SC and NC. Who tracks that?

    I'm not opposed to necessary taxes, but this tax is idiotic and a hassle for citizens.

  • Juncyard Oct 13, 2010

    NC gets $1.08 from the federal goverment for every $1.00 it's citizens pay in federal tax.....LOL....sheep don't you get it...

    NC as well as many other states in the US are what they call Welfare States.....

    Fair Tax....go right ahead and wish for it all you want, it will never happen.....

  • ykm Oct 13, 2010

    Plenty you continue to raise the fact that tax rates are low but never connect that point to anything other than go back to Clinton tax rates. What will that do?
    If the fed gov is spending close to 50% more than it takes in will the Clinton tax rates balance out spending?

  • ykm Oct 13, 2010

    Night I agree, and if enough outsiders get into office then the truth may be told, until then we will just have to watch the government go broke. A slow painful decline.

  • North Carolina Home Oct 13, 2010

    Anybody care to venture a guess on what would happen to our furniture industry and their online sales if other states suddenly decide it's up to NC to be their tax collecter?

  • nighttrain2010 Oct 13, 2010

    >>I could debate the need for government departments all day and some.

    The point being is eventually, and this is the reality, is that they will cease to exist. Nations throughout the world are operating on austerity budgets. The UK has all but sold off the Royal Mail (not really but...), cut a good chunk out government programs, cut some BBC services entirely, and are still going. The reality is either the government is going to have to eventually give us money to pay for the taxes or just accept the taxes won't be coming in and cut services. You can only get so much blood out of a stone

    >>We the People would then pressure elected reps to change the leadership or get the boot

    We the People need to own up and accept our reps are not there to do our business anymore but rather line their pockets.

    Bev threatening a giant like Amazon is an act of desperation. Politicians are flitting around looking under every last rock to pay for services they know can no longer be paid for.

  • ykm Oct 13, 2010

    I could debate the need for government departments all day and some. I wasn't attempting to justify the existence of the EPA or any other department. Only to point out a system that delivers the actual cost of services. When we find the true cost and benefit of these departments and the services they provide, We the People will solve the minor problem of should or shouldn't they exist. Or should or shouldn't they be federal. Here is another example using NC. If the budget reflected total cost as I listed before and we find the DOT is paying some ridiculous pensions it would raise a red flag and the department would come under much more scrutiny by the voters. We the People would then pressure elected reps to change the leadership or get the boot. And I have an answer for S/S also very simple, a bit of a burden but the payoff may be worth it.

  • Plenty Coups Oct 13, 2010

    anti-Mako "Right here Plenty. I cant stand the ACLU but I completely support them here."

    I respect your post because you are realistic.