Shop Online? Internet Retailers Have a Tax Advantage Congress Must End

In recent years, internet sales have grown by nearly 15 percent per year, compared to 4 percent per year for brick-and-mortar retail sales. Although e-commerce represents less than 9 percent of total retail sales, this shift in where we shop is eroding states’ sales tax base. Under the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, sellers without a physical presence in a state cannot be required to collect and remit that state’s sales tax. As a result, online sellers have an artificial competitive advantage over local brick-and-mortar sellers, who must collect sales tax from their customers. Congress needs to end this unfair tax advantage.

A Few Comments on E-Cigarettes and Cigarette Smoking Among Adolescents and Young Adults

In a recent JAMA Pediatrics article on the correlation between e-cigarette use and subsequent cigarette smoking among adolescents and young adults, Dartmouth demographer Samir Soneji and his co-authors find that the probability of cigarette smoking at follow-up is significantly higher among all e-cigarette users than among individuals who never used a nicotine product. Based on this finding, they conclude that “strong e-cigarette regulation” by the federal, state, and local governments are needed to minimize the potential “future population-level burden of tobacco.” This conclusion is unwarranted based on the nature of their results.

Happy Birthday, #BetterWay Tax Plan

Saturday marks the first birthday of the House GOP’s tax reform blueprint, “A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America.” Happy birthday, Tax Plan. To be honest, little man, when you were born you only got modest attention from those outside your immediate family. It was a busy time for the rest of us. We were watching Donald Trump clear the field of his fellow Republican candidates and were speculating about the likely fiscal agenda of Hillary Clinton.

Let’s Scrap Regulations in Favor of a Carbon Tax

Tax reform is hot this year, and rightly so. Mending an outdated tax system is an important political and policy objective. I am optimistic that Republican lawmakers will be successful, but no matter the scale or scope of this effort, it will not be the last big tax bill. Because tax reform is a perpetual effort, it is not too early to start considering post-tax-reform tax reform ideas.

Don’t Thwart an Ally in the War on Tobacco

As cigarette use decreases, it may be tempting to supplement declining tobacco tax revenues with a tax on e-cigarettes — a relatively new, less risky alternative to traditional cigarettes. Following actions by some European nations, the European Commission is now contemplating the proper tax treatment of e-cigarettes and has just finalised a public consultation on the topic. Taxing e-cigarettes would have a negative effect on nascent, but important, public health gains.

Trump vs. House GOP: Whose Plan Is More Pro-Growth?

Talk last week about President Trump’s tax reform plan had two themes: The plan is too vague, and it is too costly. In other words, we don’t know what it is, but we know what it costs.

Despite Congress and President Trump needing to fill in many blanks, it is possible to analyze the economic effects of the elements that have been announced. And it is worthwhile to compare these effects to both current law and the more detailed House Republican tax plan.

Running for Your Life? Not So Much

The New York Times, Runner’s World, and a host of other media outlets recently hyped a new study published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases on the benefits of running. The study asserts that running, if performed regularly, leads to 3.2 additional years of life.

Who Would Win a UK-Spain War?

While the UK is generally regarded as having a larger military and is certainly understood to have a larger economy from which to finance its military, its advantage on at least some common sense metrics is modest and its demands greater; the UK has more geopolitical interests around the globe to defend. Spain, on the other hand, while somewhat less equipped would have a proximity advantage in any armed conflict over Gibraltar. In short, the winner from such a hypothetical encounter is far from obvious to a casual observer.

Repeal and Replace May Have Failed Anyway

Pundits have posited every imaginable reason for the failure of the GOP to get their health care reform bill through the first big hurdle: passage on the House floor. As we all know too well, Speaker Ryan pulled the bill just minutes before a vote was scheduled, when it was absolutely clear that a majority of support could not be reached. But would success have ushered in a new health care paradigm? I doubt it.