f tax-hungry politicians get their way, the days of ordering items over the Internet and not paying sales tax may become just a fond memory. Right now, if a California resident orders something from Seattle-based Amazon.com, for instance, he or she won't be charged sales tax at the time of purchase. That's because Amazon doesn't have offices in the state of California. Pro-tax politicians want to change this by allowing California to force Amazon to collect and submit sales taxes--and they may have found an ally in a U.S. Congress that's controlled by Democrats. (Note: See our related story on new taxes on digital downloads.) Two bills are pending in Congress that would allow tax collectors to target out-of-state Internet and mail-order retailers, and their supporters are optimistic about their political prospects. "I certainly would love to see a floor vote," said Neal Osten, federal affairs counsel for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), a lobby group for state politicians. "We've heard encouraging words from the Democratic leadership in the House." Meanwhile, pro-tax states are trying their own ways to circumvent a long-standing rule saying a retailer must have physical presence before it can be forced to collect taxes. One effort came from New York state, where legislators recently approved a measure requiring Amazon and other online retailers (that lack a physical presence in the state) to collect sales tax on New Yorkers' purchases. That amounts to a declaration of war against Amazon, and a legal battle now seems all but inevitable. This is not exactly a new debate. For years, politicians in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress have been arguing that the rise of e-commerce is causing them to miss out on potentially millions of taxpayer dollars. But now, with a Democratic Congress and a potentially Democratic administration next year, the arguments may gain more political traction. Technically, of course, Americans in states with sales taxes are supposed to keep track of out-of-state purchases and cough up the necessary sales tax on April 15--the concept is known as a "use tax". But state tax collectors have long complained that in practice, that just doesn't happen, and that money has been unfairly left in taxpayers' pocketbooks. Verenda Smith, government affairs associate for the Federation of Tax Administrators, framed the decision as a moral one of sorts: "Do you want to be a good American, or do you want to be an American who wants to cheat your government deliberately? It's a harsh way to look at it, but it's true." Smith said she's also concerned that there's not a level playing field, which is potentially giving online retailers an advantage over their brick-and-mortar counterparts. It's not exactly clear how much money states are losing to uncollected use taxes. Some politicians have thrown around claims in the past that state and local governments will have lost nearly half a trillion dollars in uncollected sales taxes by 2011. More generally, total e-commerce sales were estimated at $136.4 billion in 2007, up about 19 percent from the year before, according to the latest U.S. Census statistics. That figure still accounted for only about 3.4 percent of total 2007 retail sales in the United States, however, as opposed to about 2.9 percent in 2006. http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9919420-7.html?tag=newsmap Im sad to see that this kind of shit will be sported by democrats. I'd like to see names of those who support this instead of a "lobby group for state politicians"