For Seniors: How Know What Other Laws Affect eBay Business

When you see on eBay, you have to follow the laws that affect eBay business. The U.S. government uses two laws on the books to go after eBay outlaws. One is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act, which prohibits deceptive or misleading transactions in commerce. The other is the Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule, which requires sellers to ship merchandise in a timely manner or offer to refund a consumer’s money.

The FTC is in charge of pursuing these violations. If you have a question about federal laws, you can find a lot of information online. These three Web sites keep fairly current lists of U.S. law and federal codes:

Congress’s Internet Tax Freedom Act stated that until October 2001, Congress and state legislatures couldn’t institute new taxes on Internet transactions. President Bush signed a unanimously approved law that extended (through November 1, 2003) a ban on multiple and discriminatory Internet taxes and Internet-access taxes. (The moratorium did not apply to sales taxes or federal taxes.)

The legislation also lengthened the Sense of the Congress resolution that there should be no federal taxes on Internet access or electronic commerce, and that the United States should work aggressively through the EU (European Union) and WTO (World Trade Organization) to keep electronic commerce free from tariffs and discriminatory taxes.

Even though November 1, 2003, has passed, there’s still discussion about the law. Some people want to exempt online merchants if they bring in less than $25,000 per year. Others say no taxes should be imposed unless the merchant has sales of $5 million a year. As of mid-2009, this issue still isn’t resolved. Ask your tax pro how to proceed.

Something new is on the horizon: the Streamlined Sales Tax Project (SST). Although the name of this government project may make it sound like the states will be charging state sales tax on all e-commerce purchases, the reality isn’t that simple. The battle is ongoing — and though eBay sellers with sales under $100,000 a year probably don’t have much to fear, you should still do a Google search on the SSTA every once in a while to keep up to date.

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