Thursday, August 24, 2006

Income Taxes Are Immoral. Reason #9,234,983,234

In the shifting sands that define what 'income' is and from where it comes, the IRS is rattling sabers about online auctions, specifically those on Ebay. It's one thing to talk about sellers making an income by selling goods on Ebay--this, in my opinion is no different than someone doing the same out of their garage without an internet connection. But it's another thing to start talking about a guy who pulls a 24 port network switch off a shelf with a sticky note that reads "Bad?" and sells it on Ebay 'as is'. If you're making your entire living selling stuff, prudence says you probably ought to report something to the IRS dogs, just to keep them at bay. But when you're talking about a baseball card collection or a nice antique set of teacups, them's fightin' words.

While no details were given, the new reporting requirements could mean big changes for stand-alone Web retailers as well as individuals selling family heirlooms through popular online auction sites such as eBay Inc.

Specifically, they're targeting items which sell for more than their purchase price. If an item's original purchase value can't be determined, the IRS kindly estimates that value to be $0.

Something also tells me that the IRS won't be adjusting for inflation, either.


Anonymous said...

It could be argued that the antique teacups are capital and, while they might experience depreciation, they may also increase in value, in which case, when you sell them you are making a profit and that should be taxed. Perfectly logical.

Paul said...

The idea isn't that it isn't logical (beyond the ever expansive and vague definition of 'income') but that it's immoral for government to have its nose in our affairs so deeply. We're surprised by NSA wiretaps, while we nod approvingly at the electronic tracking and reporting of every transaction on a popular auction website.

If you have nothing to hide, why do we care?