HB 7, a bill to deepen the state’s involvement in the Streamlined Sales Tax Project that may someday lead to taxing Internet sales, nearly died in the House Rev & Tax Committee this morning when conservative lawmakers clamored to kill it. “This is unconstitutional,” said Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, a tax protester who refused to pay his federal income tax for seven years while unsuccessfully challenging the IRS. “The ability to buy products without a sales tax is an oasis of freedom,” Hart said, according to the Associated Press. But the bill passed on a 9-8 vote.
Ironically, Idaho already requires its residents to pay sales tax on Internet and catalog sales – they’re supposed to report and pay such taxes on their income tax returns. But few do, and it’s not enforced.
With a single vote separating the bill from failure, the Associated Press reported, the health problems of one panel member - Rep. Jim Clark - turned out to be decisive. Clark suffered a minor stroke last Friday, and won’t return before Monday, at the earliest. Had he been there, Clark said, he’d have voted the measure down; a tie would have killed it. “I hate it,” Clark told the AP in a phone interview from his Hayden Lake home. “I think we can take it down on the (House) floor.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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